Small Ideas for (Mostly) Big Roads

The past month has been a bit of a roller coaster, and I’ve taken a couple steps back from this blog to focus my attention on family and personal matters. I do have a couple longer pieces in the works that I hope to share with you in coming weeks — maybe even days — but for now, I have something a little bit easier to digest.

Several weeks back, I published a piece on making our neighborhood “stroads” —  those are dangerous hybrids of streets and roads — safer by thinking about them more as places where people walk, bike and linger in addition to drive rather than just as thoroughfares for high-speed motor vehicle traffic. It’s something that is probably easier to visualize than to describe, so through the magic of Google Maps, which I use almost daily to “travel” around the world and get a sense of how other places work, I decided to compare some of our worst offenders with better alternatives, some more local than others. The idea here isn’t to completely reinvent any street (hence the “small ideas” title). I’m not proposing we completely pedestrianize Western Avenue, run light rail down 95th Street or pretend we have the population density and access to transit that allow many European cities to close off large sections of their city centers to automobiles. Maybe someday that can happen, but right now, we are what we are. What I’d rather do is to look at how some of our streets currently function and look to other similar streets that we could emulate.

Feel free to explore the street view images below. Try to experience what it might be like to be on one of these streets. What I hope is that through these examples, we residents can visualize our community’s public realm differently and demand change in order to strengthen our economic and social capital. Perhaps we start by working toward the “better alternatives” with an ultimate goal of developing these places to be more like the “even better alternatives.” Any of these alternatives, however, would be better than what we have and ultimately #GoodForThe19thWard.

Case #1

Local Example: 95th Street, Beverly, Chicago

 

Better Alternative: Boulevard Broadway, Grand Falls, New Brunswick, Canada

 

Even Better Alternative: Lancaster Boulevard, Lancaster, California

 

* * * * * * * * * *

Case #2

Local Example: Western Avenue, Morgan Park, Chicago

 

Better Alternative: Edgewater Drive, Orlando, Florida

 

Even Better Alternative: Lawrence Avenue, Chicago

 

* * * * * * * * * *

Case #3

Local Example: 111th Street, Morgan Park, Chicago

 

Better Alternative: Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, North Carolina

 

Even Better Alternative: Mt. Desert Street, Bar Harbor, Maine

 

* * * * * * * * * *

Case #4

Local Example: Walden Parkway, Beverly, Chicago

 

Better Alternative: River Street, Batavia, Illinois

 

Even Better Alternative: Jay Street, Schenectady, New York

Jay St copy

 

* * * * * * * * * *

Case #5

Local Example: 111th Street, Mount Greenwood, Chicago

 

Better Alternative: South 1100 East, Salt Lake City, Utah

 

Even Better Alternative: Main Street, Dallas, Texas

 

* * * * * * * * * *

Case #6

Local Example: Western Avenue, Beverly, Chicago

 

Better Alternative: Lincoln Avenue, San Jose, California

 

Even Better Alternative: Nevada Way, Boulder City, Nevada

 

* * * * * * * * * *

Case #7

Local Example: Kedzie Avenue, Mount Greenwood, Chicago

 

Better Alternative: Shelby Street, Indianapolis, Indiana

 

Even Better Alternative: 12th Avenue, Denver, Colorado

 

* * * * * * * * * *

Case #8

Local Example: 103rd Street, Beverly, Chicago

 

Better Alternative: Grand Boulevard, Vancouver, Washington

 

Even Better Alternative: Harrison Boulevard, Boise, Idaho

 

* * * * * * * * * *

Case #9

Local Example: 111th Street, Mount Greenwood, Chicago

 

Better Alternative: Magazine Street, New Orleans, Louisiana

 

Even Better Alternative: Kimberly Avenue, Asheville, North Carolina

 

* * * * * * * * * *

Case #10

Local Example: Western Avenue, Beverly, Chicago

 

Better Alternative: Sacramento Drive, Chicago

 

Even Better Alternative: Queen Elizabeth Drive, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

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