Imagine: a street with no sidewalks, no crosswalks, no curbs or lane markings. This is a street with no distinctions between pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. The city of Chicago is betting against the unsafe odds on its new redesign of a four-block stretch of its uptown.
The idea behind the redesign is that by removing common street controls, street users will actually act less recklessly and will use eye contact to negotiate space. And, this idea isn’t anything new! In London, shared streets have existed for years and have proven to be effective in reducing accidents. Cities in the U.S. like Seattle, Washington and Buffalo, New York, also have shared streets.
As the city of Chicago began looking to implement a new street improvement project for Argyle Street, the idea came about. Argyle Street, an active block with business and restaurants in a diverse neighborhood, has also shut down in the past two summers for the city’s first night market. The $3.5 million renovation will not feature curbs or lanes but will include stop signs to avoid chaos. The speed limit will be set to 15 miles per hour, and different colors and pavers will indicate differences between the sidewalk and street.