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‘Shared Streets’ program returns, expands to two South Side locations

Starting Friday, residents can walk, run, skate and ride their bikes on South Shore Drive between 53rd and 56th streets and on Dante Avenue and 77th Street between South Chicago and Blackstone avenues, city officials said.

City officials including Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gia Biagi, left, and 46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman, ride their bikes along a “Shared Street” located at North Lincoln Ave. and West Leland Ave. in the Lincoln Square neighborhood, Thursday, May 27, 2021. This is the second year this street has been designated as a “Shared Street” by CDOT.
City officials including Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gia Biagi, left, and 46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman, ride their bikes along a “Shared Street” located at North Lincoln Ave. and West Leland Ave. in the Lincoln Square neighborhood, Thursday, May 27, 2021. This is the second year this street has been designated as a “Shared Street” by CDOT.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

The city’s Department of Transportation is expanding its “Shared Streets” program to two South Side locations this year.

Starting Friday, residents can walk, run, skate and ride their bikes on South Shore Drive between 53rd and 56th streets and on Dante Avenue and 77th Street between South Chicago and Blackstone avenues, officials said.

“We knew during the pandemic that people needed more outdoor spaces to be able to congregate in a safe way,” said Ald. Matt Martin (47th), who rode his bike with CDOT Commissioner Gia Biagi and others on a “Shared Street” in Lincoln Square Thursday to announce the relaunch of the program.

“We’ve heard from folks that they love this as an opportunity to be able to, again, walk, bike, run outdoors and use streets in a safe and a really enjoyable way.”

A cyclist walks their bike by a “Shared Street” located at North Lincoln Ave. and West Leland Ave. in the Lincoln Square neighborhood, Thursday, May 27, 2021. This is the second year this street has been designated as a “Shared Street” by the Chicago Department of Transportation.
A cyclist walks their bike by a “Shared Street” located at North Lincoln Ave. and West Leland Ave. in the Lincoln Square neighborhood, Thursday, May 27, 2021. This is the second year this street has been designated as a “Shared Street” by the Chicago Department of Transportation.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Cars can be driven on the “Shared Streets” but it is limited to local traffic and delivery and emergency vehicles.

The “Shared Streets” program was created last year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that necessitated more outdoor spaces. There were 125 city blocks that were designated as “Shared Streets” last summer.

Biagi said the city received 4,000 responses to a survey on how the program could be improved.

“We’re trying to do this in a grassroots way. We’re not here to just do it without asking,” Biagi said. “We want to make sure it’s a partnership with communities.”

Barrels and traffic control signs have been placed on the designated streets to ensure safety for bikers and pedestrians for this season.

“We have taken into account traffic concerns and congestion,” said Maggie Gaecke, Ald. James Cappleman’s (46th) director of infrastructure and public safety.

“We’ve also made sure to spread out the barrels, so they're not blocking any alley entrances or main intersections.”

Standing in the rain Thursday, Biagi encouraged residents to take advantage of the program that runs through the summer.

“Get on a bike,” she said. “There’s no bad weather, only bad clothing.”

Information on the “Shared Streets” program is available on the city’s website.

Editor’s note: This article was updated to correct the Shared Street on Dante Avenue and 77th Street between South Chicago and Blackstone avenues.