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Open Streets Expands In Loop And To Wicker Park In 2012

By Chuck Sudo in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 14, 2012 3:00PM

Chuck Sudo/Chicagoist

Last year’s inaugural Open Streets project on State Street shut down that great street for a few hours and, as one passer-by said, “turned into a stupid ass park.” I was more concerned by the somewhat chaotic travel patterns caused by pedestrians, skaters and bicyclists weaving through the growing crowds as the event progressed. As an experiment the Chicago Loop Alliance made their point to promote community culture and art, while allowing people to enjoy State Street without the vehicle traffic. I was more afraid a toddler would be hurt darting in front of a cyclist.

Open Streets returns for a second go-round in the Loop on Sept. 8 from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. and an expanded area. State Street will still be closed from Lake to Van Buren. Monroe Street will also be closed to vehicle traffic from State Street to Lake Shore Drive.

Wicker Park and Bucktown is getting the Open Streets treatment on Sept. 16 from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Milwaukee Avenue will be closed to vehicle traffic from Division Street to Western Avenue. It’s another good fit for the project, since that stretch of Milwaukee Avenue is already shared (somewhat tensely, at times) by motorists, bicyclists, skaters and pedestrians, not to mention WPB's status as a center for art and culture in Chicago. But, boy is it going to cock up traffic on that day.

Both Open Streets projects will feature skate parks, yoga instruction, “imagination centers” for the kids, climbing walls and slacklines, relay races and other games. Transit advocates like the Active Transportation Alliance will be on hand to discuss what they’re doing to help make streets and transit safer in Chicago.