Monday, October 18, 2010

Lakeview Living Room -- Create a Social Space at the Intersection of Broadway and Clarendon Avenue

The intersection of Broadway and Clarendon Avenue in Chicago's Lakeview is like many in the United States -- excessively wide and unsafe. It is also an unused opportunity to create a social space, or at least a more pleasing looking one, in an urban environment.

In a "Y" intersection, such as this one, traffic engineers usually give motor vehicles as much space to maneuver as possible (see middle left photo of the truck and bicycle in a sea of asphalt). This does a disservice to everyone on the road -- motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists. It becomes unclear who is to go where and also encourages higher speeds, a dangerous combination.

Tighten it up! By narrowing the "Y" to a "T" intersection and bringing out the sidewalk to the vehicle (motor and foot-powered) travel lanes, everyone benefits (see my plan, bottom left). Paths are clearer, speeds are reduced, and pedestrians have less asphalt to cross.

Landscape it! Program it! Let it be! This newly found space (shown in red in the plan), in a fairly densely settled neighborhood, can now become an urban living room. Landscaped, it can be more visually appealing. Hardscaped, it could be used for farmers markets or impromptu shows and hula-hooping (see image, top left).

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