Pedestrians have been left out of the multi-modal Logan Square transportation hub

Pedestrians Cross Kedzie Ave.
at the Logan Square “el” Stop

The photo above illustrates a typical daily evening scene as passengers exit the main north exit of the Logan Square “el” station to head east across Kedzie Avenue on foot.  In the morning pedestrians are crossing in the opposite direction.

As people will forever choose the shortest distance between two points, it does not make sense for passengers to walk out of their way due north or due south to the intersections with Schubert and Milwaukee Avenues, respectively.  As people also tend to choose the lesser of two evils, it does not make sense for passengers to tangle with the bus traffic at the bus depot north of the exit, so they instead choose to dodge the cars on Kedzie Avenue.

Fortunately there’s a large median separating southbound and northbound Kedzie Avenue traffic, so after negotiating southbound traffic, pedestrians have a respite to plan their next traffic dodge on the other side of the median.  But this seems like a problem whose time has come to be solved.

The east side of Kedzie has filled out nicely over the years to create a restaurant row conveniently located to the “el,” bus depot, and public parking lot that combine for this excellent multi-modal transportation hub.  Bike racks have been installed inside and outside the station in recent years, and there are plans for bike lanes on Kedzie Avenue from Milwaukee Avenue north. Pedestrians, though, have not been accommodated well.  So what’s the solution?

Below I have drawn in a striped crosswalk that should be the minimum done to accommodate pedestrians at this location (I’ve also drawn in a representation of the planned bike lanes), but what else should be done?

Imagining Bike Lanes and a Pedestrian Crosswalk on
Kedzie Avenue by the Logan Square “el” Stop

Here are some things to keep in mind:

On the left of the photo above, as currently configured, there are three southbound lanes of traffic:  one for left turn only onto Milwaukee Avenue, one that proceeds through to the roundabout around the square, and one that offers the option of taking a slip lane right onto Milwaukee Avenue or proceeding through to the roundabout.  It’s my understanding that one of these lanes will be sacrificed for a bike lane.  Also note that there’s currently a bus stop on the street in front of the station.  Just beyond where the crosswalk is drawn in, there is a bus turnaround under nearly half the length of the blue canopy that could conceivably accommodate four buses side by side (though I’ve never seen more than one in recent years).  There is also a taxi stand adjacent to the sidewalk in front of the parking lot just south of the bus depot.  Beyond the taxi stand and before the far building shown, there is a cross street.

On the center median, there is a subway vent just south of where this photo begins (foreground), so I’m not sure what is below the rest of the median.  Just beyond where the crosswalk is drawn in, there is a gap in the raised median to allow buses to turn left out of the depot.

On the right of the photo above are two northbound lanes of traffic and a parking lane.  Again, it’s my understanding that one of the travel lanes will be sacrificed for a bike lane.  If the parking were to be sacrificed, it would be necessary to add parking elsewhere because of the provisions of the City of Chicago’s lease of its street parking to Chicago Parking Meters, LLC.  The buildings on the right include the restaurant row.  There is also an alley intersection just south of the southernmost building shown (foreground).

How do we accommodate pedestrians as fully as we have accommodated users of other modes of travel?  How do we do it in a way that’s attractive and enhances the amenities of a multi-modal transportation hub and a neighborhood restaurant row?  And what are some quick fixes?

Spring diversions in
Logan Square:

Bike light enforcement and distribution: Tuesday,
May 24, 7:00 – 10:00 p.m. at the
intersection of Milwaukee Avenue and Logan Boulevard.


27 Responses to Pedestrians have been left out of the multi-modal Logan Square transportation hub

  1. Isa says:

    I’m always amazed that there is no crosswalk there. It seems like it should be an easy fix, while other solutions are sought.

  2. Carter says:

    The pedestrian crosswalk sounds good in theory & it certainly can’t hurt, but if you come down to the Museum Campus you will find that those crosswalks – even when reinforced with those neon yellow signs – do very little to stop/slow traffic in practice, although this could be due to the tourist demographic. Some additional form of traffic calming would definitely be appropriate.

    Traffic on this stretch is definitely like the wild west, I think drivers instinctively want to hit the gas on this stretch because it does feel very wide open.

    Will be a tough nut to crack for sure, but I’d love to see the pedestrians accommodated as opposed to what the CTA has done in the past, which is just gate off the street outside L stations. That really doesn’t work, and just makes the street look ugly and unwelcome.

    Carter: Point well taken. Closer evidence is the often ignored crosswalk on Milwaukee at Sawyer Ave. Have some ideas for reinforcing its impact, but wanted to see what thoughts others might have first. ~ Lynn

    • Steven Vance says:

      The crosswalk to which I believe you’re referring to had the wrong treatment for the problem. And the treatment was a bit over the top. It’s like putting on two bandaids when the first one is big enough to cover the whole wound.

      The street width is still the same. People still drive their cars at the same speed. The law about stopping for pedestrians in the crosswalk hasn’t changed. But what’s changed is there’s now a flashing light for the drivers and a voice telling pedestrians to thank drivers for stopping. Lame.

      (Monroe Street at Art Institute’s Modern Wing)

      • Carter says:

        Steve, I’m referring to the crosswalk that connects Soldier Field and the Field Museum of Natural History on McFetridge. I’m less familiar with the one in front of the Art Institue, that does sound worse.

  3. Matt B. says:

    As someone who has to cross this street every single day, I’ve been thinking about this a bit. Are they really going to be adding bike lanes and taking away the parking lane? If so, I wonder if adding “bulbs” to either end of the crosswalk would be effective. It would have the psychological effect of narrowing the street and slowing traffic. The bulbs could be constructed in a way that still lets bike traffic through but is impassable by cars. Also, the crosswalk itself could be slightly raised and made from a stained concrete – doubling as visual marker and speed-bump. Lastly, the dog-ugly, impervious concrete median should be planted, with an increasing intensity of vegetation occurring at the pedestrian walk (not in a way to impede sight lines, but as a visual marker that “something” is happening there).

    I would love to see a re-thinking of that entire transportation hub…

    • I don’t think they plan to take out the parking lane for the bike lane, but one of the traffic lanes. A bulb out on the east side of Kedzie might work, but on the west might be more challenging because of the bus stop.

      I’m intrigued by your thoughts on vegetation intensity on the median as one of my concerns was sight lines so pedestrians remain visible and so that buses can see to make the left turns (but then again bus drivers are high enough up to see above what most of us can). Would you tell me more of what you’re thinking. ~ Lynn

    • Steven Vance says:

      While we’re rethinking the lane and roadway configuration, let’s also think of ways to reinvigorate the plaza (its design, appearance, and use) outside the train station entrance.

  4. Nate says:

    Great discussion everyone! I created a mockup of the main transportation hub area, including the pedestrian access points farther North on Milwaukee. I’m posting it online if you’d like to use it to create additional mockups. (It was created in Adobe Illustrator by overlaying a Google Maps screenshot.)

    Here’s the a link to download the Illustrator file.

    Here’s a link to a JPEG as well.

  5. Nate says:

    Here’s a link to a proposed design that alters the curbs and narrows the street a bit to align with some of the ideas that have already been discussed. Giving pedestrians more sidewalk bump-outs would increase their “safe haven” and shorten the distance they must cross between sidewalk and the median. The narrowing/removal of a lane or two would also help to slow traffic. The idea of allowing for a pass-through for the bike lane is an interesting one, so it’s been included here as well.

    Take a look.

    • Thanks so much Nate. That’s looking better already, no? I’m not sure though about how the bus stop would interact with the west bulb out and the proposed bike lane. The bus currently stops where we’ve suggested the bulb out, but could be moved southward.

      Regretfully I don’t have and have not used Illustrator to play around with additional mock-ups, but anyone who does, let us know what you come up with. ~ Lynn

  6. Matt B. says:

    Nate: 1) Hello Neighbor! 2) That’s pretty much what I had in mind – looks like I’m going to have to try to upgrade my Photoshop and Illustrator so I can do some cool graphics! I think that could work well – I would add some vegetation or nice signage (no flashing lights or big yellow signs) to indicate that this is a pedestrian crossing. I’ll try to find some examples to show…

  7. Matt B. says:

    Here’s a street in the Netherlands. Imagine if one entire side of the median on Kedzie was devoted to bikes and the other to cars? Probably a pipe dream, but at least these planters could be used as a buffer between bikes and cars in some configuration. The street in this picture seems about as wide as Kedzie, but seems a lot less daunting for a pedestrian to cross..

    Future Kedzie Street

    • How much of Kedzie are you thinking for that treatment? the whole boulevard? If so, the challenge becomes the hot potato of church parking on the boulevard. If just for this section of Kedzie by the “el,” I would think it would confuse cyclists. Tell us what you were thinking. ~ Lynn

    • Steven Vance says:

      The photo you linked to as “Future Kedzie Street” features Vancouver, British Columbia.

      • Matt B. says:

        Oops! One of my wife’s students gave her this picture saying it was from the Netherlands, and I believed her.

  8. Nate says:

    Here’s a more refined design concept for the transportation hub and surrounding areas. Some of the new ideas include:

    • Decreasing the hub’s bus lanes to 2, and increasing the size of the main hub island
    • Creating bike lane pass-throughs on both sides of Kedzie
    • Replacing the larger concrete areas with grass, bushes, and trees including the
    • Main hub island
    • Sidewalk to the north
    • Traffic island to the southeast
    • Medians on Kedzie

    Although they haven’t been illustrated here, I would recommend adding benches in the newly created green spaces where appropriate.

    Here’s an image of the refined design.
    Here’s an animation that flips between the existing hub and the refined design.

    • Steven Vance says:

      Thank you, Nate! This is excellent. Please watermark your design with your name. I like the landscaping you added to the transit island.

      Can you make some changes:
      -Add a green bike lane, southbound Kedzie at Milwaukee. This highlights the lane changing conflict of drivers who want to turn right (north) onto Milwaukee.
      -In the bike lane, change the symbol to a bicycle with an arrow. The markings you have in the bike lanes are markings for “shared lanes.” But leave in the “shared lane markings” when they’re not inside the lines of a bike lane.

      I just realized that you’re the same Nate who made this image for my blog.

  9. Nate says:

    Here’s the 3rd version of the hub redesign proposal, incorporating the suggestions from Steven.
    • Replaced the shared bike lane markings where applicable
    • Painted the bike lanes green where applicable

    Here’s an image of the refined design.

    Here’s an animation that flips between the existing hub and the refined design.

    • Thanks again Nate. This discussion is even more urgent after a pedestrian was hit and killed by a car in this area last night.

    • Steven Vance says:

      I wasn’t clear. A green bike lane should only be as long as the conflict. While bike lanes next to car parking could be considered a conflict zone for bikers, green bike lanes are mainly for the drivers.

      Eh, it doesn’t matter. We’re just concepting.

      • In the southbound lane, in addition to the conflict with cars turning right, there’s also a bus stop and then north of the bus depot a taxi stand. Would these also be conflicts that merit the green lane? ~ Lynn

        • Steven Vance says:

          When I wrote, “it doesn’t matter,” I was thinking that ALL bike lanes should be green lanes.

          They’re not mostly out of cost concerns (expensive to install, maintain). In Copenhagen, at major intersections, bike lanes are blue starting 100 feet before the intersection, then going through it, then the blue ends 100 feet after the intersection.

    • Jeff H says:

      This is really great and totally needed. I wonder if your plan could zoom out a little further and consider access from Logan Blvd to the Centennial Monument, which requires crossing two busy intersections, which can be a bit dicey with kids in tow.

      The Chicago Open Space Plan for Logan Square shows something of a traffic circle around the square and monument that routes Milwaukee onto Logan as it goes around the square (see p. 27). Combining the plaza access with the Boulevard treatment would present the kind of big plan that would make a significant impact on a very high profile and dangerous series of intersections.

      • The square (circle) is indeed an issue, but one that involves a lot of engineering. Our thought was to first focus on something with which we could make a quicker impact. ~ Lynn

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