5 years ago these were named Chicago’s deadliest intersections. What’s been done since?

Back in 2012, the Department of Transportation published a report on bicycle crashes in Chicago. The point was to identify the causes of crashes so that the city could figure out how to make cycling safer.

The whole report is fascinating. Check it out.

Five years later, one part sticks out: a map of the most dangerous intersections for cyclists in Chicago. These places had between 15 and 20 bike crashes from 2005 to 2010, the years the report’s data are drawn from.

Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 3.28.38 PM.png

Red circles: 15-20 bike crashes. Yellow circles: 10-14 crashes.

There were 7 of these extra-dangerous intersections in Chicago.

Now it’s 2017. Five years have passed since CDOT identified them. What better way to gauge the city’s progress in bike safety than to check up on its 7 worst intersections?

How many have been fixed, and how many are still unsafe? Where are they in the first place?

Click to find out.

The intersections in question:

  • Fullerton/Halsted/Lincoln
  • Milwaukee/California
  • Milwaukee/Chicago
  • Chicago/Halsted
  • Damen/Fullerton/Elston
  • Montrose and the Lake Front Trail
  • Milwaukee/Damen/North

Improvements presented from best to worst.


N. DAMEN AVE./W. FULLERTON AVE./N. ELSTON AVE. (BUCKTOWN)

Let’s start with the happy story.

Before (June 2011):

DamenFullertonJun2011.png

Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 3.41.51 PM.png

Image: CDOT

In 2012, this was a 6-way intersection with no bike lanes, terrible traffic, and a confusing street arrangement. This had been one of the 10 most dangerous intersections in Chicago for 20 years, according to CDOT.

In May 2015, the city started construction on a $22.5 million project to turn it into two 4-way intersections.

The project included new protected bike lanes and wider sidewalks on the rerouted Elston Avenue. Plus, Damen now has a bike lane that didn’t exist back in 2012.

How it looks now: DEF_intersection_graphic.jpg

Image: CDOT

 

A very big deal.

Our rating:

Flag_of_Chicago__Illinois_svg.png

3.9 stars. Credit goes to Rahm and Alderman Scott Waguespack.


W. CHICAGO AVE./N. MILWAUKEE AVE. (WEST TOWN)

Before (August 2007):

ChicagoMilwaukeeAug2007.png

Another diagonal intersection, this time on Milwaukee.

No bike lanes in sight. Traffic all over the place. Not a complete asphalt hellscape, but not  that far off.

How it looks now:ChicagoMilwaukeeSep2016.png

Ah, an improvement: a bike lane on Chicago Avenue. A welcome change, but a modest one. And nothing on Milwaukee.

Our rating:

Flag_of_Chicago__Illinois_svg.png.

2 stars. Constituents might want to thank Alderman Walter Burnett Jr. while urging him to keep going.


N. MILWAUKEE AVE./N. CALIFORNIA AVE. (LOGAN SQUARE)

Before (June 2011):MilwaukeeCaliforniaJune2011.png

Another dangerous intersection, another diagonal. This is an intersection designed for cars, not people.

How it looks now:MilwaukeeCalifornia2016.png

The difference? Some faded “sharrows” for bikes. Is it an improvement? A little. But nothing to write home about.

Our rating:

Flag_of_Chicago__Illinois_svg.png

1.8 stars. You could express a little gratitude to Alderman Proco Joe Moreno, but don’t go overboard.


W. FULLERTON AVE./N. HALSTED AVE./N. LINCOLN AVE. (LINCOLN PARK)

Before (April 2009):FulltertonLincolnHalstedApril2009.png

Oh boy. Another diagonal, another really awful intersection. No bike lanes, of course. And look at how shallow the sidewalks are. It’s an asphalt wasteland.

Could they do anything to make pedestrians and cyclists feel a little less terrified crossing the street? Wider sidewalks to make drivers think twice before gunning it through a complicated intersection?

But this was back in 2009. Lincoln Park has so many cyclists and pedestrians. It must’ve changed, right?

How it looks now:FullertonLincolnHalstedSep2016.png

No, not really. Sharrows again. Can these fix an intersection with such profound problems? We guess no.

Our rating:

Flag_of_Chicago__Illinois_svg.png

1 star. We bet the 43rd Ward’s Michele Smith wants to hear from you about how little has been done here.

Then again, at least something has been done. For the remaining places on the list, the city has done absolutely nothing.


W. MONTROSE AVE./LAKE FRONT TRAIL (UPTOWN)

The only appearance of the LFT on the list.

Before (July 2011):

MontroseLFTJul2011.png

We’re guessing motorists coming off Lake Shore Drive cross the path without looking for cyclists.

How it looks now:

MontroseLFTOct2016.png

Exactly the same, except for a camera installed above the stop sign. Let’s hope that the new LFT trail separation will do something about this.

Our rating:

Flag_of_Chicago__Illinois_svg.png

.5 stars. At least they didn’t take out the stop sign? Talk to James Cappelman of the 46th Ward about it.


W. CHICAGO AVE. AND N. HALSTED AVE. (RIVER WEST)

Now things start to get really bad.

Before (September 2013):ChicagoHalstedSep2013.png

The picture tells the whole story here. Imagine being the poor cyclist crossing Chicago Avenue–or even just walking across the street. Look how much asphalt there is. Jeez.

How it looks now:

ChicagoHalstedAug2016.png

No improvement. Still car central, even though people bike here all the time. Are we surprised this is a dangerous intersection?

Our rating:

Flag_of_Chicago__Illinois_svg.png

.5 stars. 27th ward again–Walter Burnett Jr. Urge him to do something about it.

And finally, the least improved dangerous intersection of all:


N. MILWAUKEE AVE./N. DAMEN AVE./W. NORTH AVE.

It’s hard to capture how awful this intersection is in a Google street view screenshot. So here are two.

Before (April 2009):

MilwaukeeNorthDamenApril2009.png

MilwaukeeNorthDamenApril20092.png

Another 6-way intersection. It actually doesn’t look too terrible in the before pictures: clearly marked crosswalks and sharrows on Milwaukee help.

But pretty paint aside, this was–and (spoiler alert) still is–one of the most dangerous intersections in the city.

How it looks now:

MilwaukeeNorthDamen2016.png

MilwaukeeNorthDamen20162.png

Many of the above intersections are awful on some level, but this one is awful on many levels. It’s actually gotten worse over the past 5 years. Crosswalk markings have faded almost completely. The sharrows have worn away.

Anyone who’s biked or walked here knows it can be a complete nightmare.

Luckily there’s hope: Active Trans is working on a plan to improve Milwaukee Avenue.

Our rating:

Flag_of_Chicago__Illinois_svg.png

0 stars. I.e., awful. This intersection lies in both the 1st and the 2nd Wards. Contact Joe Moreno and Brian Hopkins. Express your exasperation.

 


So there you have it.

Patterns? 5 of these are on diagonals. 3 are along Milwaukee. 2 are on Damen, 2 on Fullerton, and 2 on Halsted.

The work done after 5 years:

  • 1 major improvement
  • 3 minor (or very minor) improvements
  • 3 have had absolutely nothing done

Many great bike projects have been completed in Chicago over the past few years: the 606, Loop bike lanes, barrier-protected lanes. But fixing the places where cyclists get hit is just as important. Maybe your well-meaning alderman could use a reminder.

 

6 thoughts on “5 years ago these were named Chicago’s deadliest intersections. What’s been done since?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s