BikeWalk Logan Square committee presentation
Last Thursday, August 25, the BikeWalk Logan Square committee, of which I’m a part, presented its ideas for improving the main Logan Square “el” station and enhancing how the station accommodates pedestrians, cyclists and transit riders.
There is much to improve (see aerial photo below). While there have been some aesthetic improvements in just the past few weeks, we envision many more improvements to address the variety of problems and opportunities that we have recognized.
Pedestrian access and experience
As previously noted, Pedestrians have been left out of the multi-modal Logan Square transportation hub. Starting with the bottom of the concept image below (click on image to enlarge; north is to the right), we are proposing new crosswalks that connect the east sidewalk on Kedzie Avenue with the transportation hub. One is just south of Schubert Avenue and another, the main crossing, is centered so that it captures the natural paths of the many people who exit the “el” station every day to head east from this station exit. Some head east via Logan Boulevard to the south, and some head east via Schubert Avenue to the north of the station, and most cross Kedzie Avenue now where we propose to put the mid-block crosswalks.
August 25 Park Concept
for Logan Square “el” Station and Access
The crosswalks we envision would be prominently striped and take a “Y” shape to follow the natural curve of a pedestrian’s route (see, for example, photo below of ergo crosswalk). Additionally or alternatively, they could be raised crosswalks that form what’s known as a speed table to slow vehicles.
The pedestrian experience and the overall appearance of this area could be further enhanced by adding plants and trees to the median. Albeit only with paint, the median area has recently been widened, allowing even more space for plantings.
Another idea we consider a viable and interesting approach to accommodating pedestrian access from Kedzie Avenue is creating a woonerf on Kedzie Avenue between Milwaukee Avenue on the south and the intersection with Schubert Avenue and Emmett Street on the north. A woonerf is Dutch for “living street,” a street where pedestrians and cyclists take precedent over vehicles. Various traffic calming measures like textured pavers and obstacles like trees and parked cars are used to slow vehicle traffic down to a speed compatible with a pedestrian pace (see photo above of Dutch woonerf).
We also desire to improve the pedestrian experience on the sidewalk between the building north of the station and the bus turnaround lanes (top of concept image above). The sidewalk is not kept clean, nor is it shoveled in the winter, and until the recent aesthetic improvements mentioned above, dumpsters lined a portion of the sidewalk. We think that lining the sidewalk with planters to form a barrier between pedestrians and bus traffic will enhance the pedestrian experience (see, for example, photo left of modular concrete planters). The sidewalk must be kept clean and the dumpsters corralled as intended of course.
Transit rider experience
Surprisingly for a transit station, bus and train riders are not accommodated much better than pedestrians accessing the station. We propose the addition of some benches for people waiting for the buses at this station. Currently there’s only one bench, which is located on Kedzie Avenue where no bus picks up passengers. People stand patiently and politely in line for their buses, but I’ve seen the elderly leaning precariously on whatever they can find, and sometimes it’s nice for any of us just to take a load off after a long day.
Before a previous station renovation (circa 2001?), at the top of the train station’s escalator, there used to be a compass rose to help orient people for whom the stop was not familiar (see, for example, photo right). We’d like to bring it back. It helps to give people their bearings as they exit the dark of the underground station, and helps their friends provide them with walking directions.
As noted in a previous post, bike parking is well-utilized, and there’s room for more. As the safest alternative to protect from theft, cyclists’ first choice is the almost always full underground bike parking. We propose to increase the underground parking capacity by two-thirds by replacing the existing U-racks with double-decker racks. We want to move the U-racks they’re replacing to add to the racks west of the escalator/ stairwell and to add racks east of the escalator/stairwell under the station’s canopy. With the changes to both above ground and underground parking, we can more than double bike parking capacity.
In addition, we would like to include a bike fix-it station for cyclists on the wide sidewalk area north of the bus lanes, but still under cover of the station canopy (see, for example, photo above of Trek Stop). The fix-it station would provide some tools for bicycle repairs, a bicycle stand to facilitate those repairs, and a vending machine that dispenses bike parts and products.
In keeping with the multi-modality of this transportation hub, we also suggest including a bike share location (see photo right from ambimb on Flickr) as we’re hoping Chicago’s bike share system will expand beyond tourism and the tourist areas to accommodate transportation needs of residents in their neighborhoods.