Some Chicago streets will be opened up to provide more space for pedestrians and cyclists to safely utilize while social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic, the city's Department of Transportation confirmed Wednesday.
Streetsblog Chicago was the first to report the development after a reader identified the locations the city will begin to open using the ChiStreetWork website that lists public permit information.
The four streets that have so far been slated to be opened up, all on the city's North and Northwest Sides, include:
- Glenwood Avenue from Carmen Avenue to Devon Avenue, running north through Andersonville and Edgewater
- Leland Avenue from Lincoln Avenue to Sheridan Road, stretching from Lincoln Square to Uptown
- Palmer Street from Long Avenue to Kedzie Boulevard, from Hanson Park on the west to Palmer Square on the east
- Cortland Avenue from Ridgeway Avenue to Rockwell Avenue, one block north of the 606 trail, which remains closed
Further details on the plans, including when the streets may be opened, were not immediately available.
The Chicago Department of Transportation is working on additional plans for shared streets on the city's South Side, and while it has not yet pulled permits for those areas, it plans to in the coming days. Other cities across the country like New York City, Oakland, Washington, D.C., Tampa and more have all instituted similar policies, closing miles of streets to cars to allow residents to exercise while safely maintaining at least six feet of space from others.
"As the City anticipates transitioning into a new phase of its reopening plan sometime in June, CDOT is preparing plans to equitably re-allocate street space to residents, where feasible, for various uses beyond driving a car," CDOT spokesman Michael Claffey said in a statement. "CDOT will continue working with stakeholders in all of Chicago’s neighborhoods to implement effective and meaningful transportation initiatives that help increase access and mobility for all of Chicago’s residents, while keeping safety at the forefront."
Claffey added that community engagement "will remain a critical component" of the department's process as the initiative continues. Chicago residents can provide feedback on the plans and any other transportation issues by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot hinted at opening up streets earlier this month, tweeting, "People are itching to get outside. Businesses are looking at creative ways to serve customers. The key is how we do it."
"Stay tuned for some changes to our streets and sidewalks. Transportation is more than just cars," Lightfoot continued. "We'll show how Chicago can be safer and easier to get around."