Friday, May 01, 2015

Edgewater Needs Way More Divvy

"A new study from the National Association of City Transportation Officials [PDF] adds credence to the theory that station density is a key factor in whether a bike-share system will flourish or flop." 

Edgewater, already slighted by the first Divvy roll-out, will be seriously under serviced with the 2015 Divvy expansion. In high density areas bike sharing experts recommend a station every quarter mile, two blocks.



Five Divvy stations on Broadway between Devon and Argyle are not enough. Three in Andersonville, Edgewater's pedestrian paradise are not enough. If they were not sticking one at the ridiculous corner of Ridge and Clark/Ashland it would be a square mile of Divvy desert.



Blue Existing, Red 2015 Expansion - Click to go to source.
And here is the corker: along the population dense highrise filled Sheridan Road in Edgewater, not one single Divvy station! Not one.

This is a problem for Alderman Harry Osterman. For many people, Harry, is turning out to be a disappointment. But there is plenty of room for blame all around in Edgewater. As a community it experienced a sea-change in the 2000s and the Bordelais, that's French for Edgewaterians, have still not gotten their footing.

The sea change is from a struggling neighborhood with empty storefronts, slum landlords and a crime strip to a gentrifying lakefront ward; from Dominicks to Whole Foods as it were. The old Edgewater had the Edgewater Community Council (ECC) that united the community and helped prevent the downward slide that Rogers Park experienced. ECC is gone. In an epic crash it went from owning its own building to nothing. To a not even existing nothing. As if the sea change washed it away.

Is an ECC needed now? Its old job was fighting slumlords. What would be its new job? Delivering a swift kick in the butt of the Alderman would be a start. Harry needs leaders to follow because he isn't one. And I get that. The fastest way out of office is to stick your neck out. No, Harry needs a community demanding things at his back. No sense blaming him.

So what would a new ECC, with a new name, have as a mission for the new gleaming Edgewater? Urbanity, that's what. Urbanity, because Edgewater is one of the densest residential neighborhoods in the city of Chicago. Thirty story buildings line Sheridan Road the entire length of Edgewater. Four-Plus-Ones and larger line both sides of the two street Kenmore-Winthrop corridor. Broadway is a mixed bag but has a lot of dense residential buildings. And then except for Lakewood-Balmoral and Edgewater Glen the rest of Edgewater is mostly six-flats and three-flats.

These are some of the best urban-densisty tracts in Chicago. With an actual over-abundance of el-stops and walkability scores in the 90's Edgewater is an epitome of city dwelling.

So what's missing? What would a new ECC fight for? What future would a new ECC be dragging and kicking a screaming Alderman Harry Osterman into?

Actually again Harry is not a bad wizard of Oz. The pedestrian street scape on Argyle is likely to be amazing. The bike lanes down Broadway south of Foster are great. But I'm not sure those were Harry initiatives. I think he was a follower, yes loyal, on those. Broadway, Sheridan and Ridge is the bull whose horns need grabbing. Harry is not up to it. The Edgewater community is not up to it at the moment. But there are many many small things that can be pursued that will prepare the ground for the big horn grabbing.

And we are back to Divvy. Considering Edgewater's density not nearly enough are to be installed. Yes there could be more in the works. So lets discuss why Divvy is so important to Edgewater's future and where the missing stations should be located. Broadway as a commercial district has always struggled. The reason is simple, way too many way too fast cars. It's hard to cross and hard to sit next to. And there is too much off-street parking. Too much off-street parking means that there are too few available store fronts for a vibrant Andersonville style business district. Also the too-wide Broadway means that it's hard for an across the street synergy to develop between businesses.

To repeat:

Five Divvy stations on Broadway between Devon and Argyle are not enough. Three in Andersonville, Edgewater's pedestrian paradise are not enough. If they were not sticking one at the ridiculous corner of Ridge and Clark/Ashland it would be a square mile of Divvy desert.

And again the corker: along the population dense highrise filled Sheridan Road in Edgewater, not one single Divvy station! Not one.

What Divvy can do is bring closer the distances between Clark, Broadway and Sheridan Road businesses with their respective residents. The Millennials that are attracted to the car-free potential of Sheridan Road and the Corridor with the el nearby are missing only the easy access of Broadway up and down and then over to Andersonville. Divvy is made for Edgewater. Walking out of your apartment, on your way finding a Divvy and speeding your trip to one or several stores along Broadway and over to Andersonville would be the bee's knees for the car-free crowd. And it's not a chicken/egg thing either. The further bike lane improvements can come later. The ease of east-west travel is already there and the corridor's easy north-south as well as Glenwood's north-south are ready made for bikes.

I've covered a lot more than Divvy here. And I've still left stuff out. Transit Oriented Development (TOD) is occurring and will continue to occur, for instance. All these areas of urban design and planning need to be addressed by a new ECC. A new ECC ready to lead a ready to follow Alderman Harry Osterman.

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A new study from the National Association of City Transportation Officials [PDF] adds credence to the theory that station density is a key factor in whether a bike-share system will flourish or flop.

4 comments:

Elliott Mason said...

There is no chance that this is the final station density, it's just a compromise because of the need to build out in stages.

Would you rather have sparse access (but access) now so you can start using it, or wait until a year or two from now when they have the numbers of stations and bikes to put in the proper, intended final density?

Jeff Wegerson said...

I'm putting this out there for people who may be less savvy about bike share. I'm also suggesting this as part of a springboard to revive ECC.

Eli said...

Considering the number of active-transportation fans in Edgewater it is depressing how disorganized they (we) are. We are consistently unable to do anything about the high-speed four-lane highways, Broadway and Ridge, which divide our neighborhood. (Osterman is now proposing that bike lanes be marked on the sidewalk along north Broadway--in other words, we can't wrest a few feet of space from the massively over-wide Broadway car lanes; instead pedestrians and cyclists must fight over the remaining crumbs.)

We've been willing to accept years of delays and broken promises regarding Divvy expansion and the Peterson Metra stop with hardly any pushback.

We've been unable to stop new car-oriented anti-pedestrian anti-cyclist development such as the new strip mall at Broadway and Foster, or the endless building of new parking lots (which sit empty most of the time) where there used to be street-facing retail.

All of this despite very high transit usage numbers and tons of cyclists. It's dispiriting.

Jeff Wegerson said...

Thanks. I so agree.