The Chicago City Council has approved the rezoning parts of W Fulton Street and W Randolph Street in the West Loop. In the latest council meeting the body approved turning select stretches of both streets into pedestrian streets, however this does not imply that they will be closed to vehicular traffic. The designation which is applied to a variety of streets in the city, including 18th Street in Pilsen, redefines what projects that will abutt the streets will need to provide moving forward.
The approval comes after a multi-year $20.3 million project that began in 2015 with the installation of the Fulton Market sign at the intersection with N Halsted Street. The work which concluded in July 2021 included new widened stone and concrete sidewalks, new custom street furniture including benches and bike racks, new drainage, formalized angled parking and more. This work stretched from N Halsted Street all the way to N Ogden Avenue to the west and is designed to preserve the area’s historic character.
The same stretch of street is now designated as a pedestrian street, the boundaries are from N Halsted Street to N Ogden Avenue on W Fulton Street and from N Halsted Street to N Ada Street along W Randolph Street. The designation now means that any projects or developments that abut the streets will have to meet a certain set of criteria as followed per city code:
- The entire building facade that faces the street must abut the sidewalk or be located within five feet of the sidewalk.
- At least 60 percent of the street facing facade between four to ten feet in height must be comprised of clear, non-reflective, glass to allow the visibility of commerce inside.
- On lots abutting the street, buildings must have a primary entrance door facing the street, corner entrances are also allowed, this includes entrances to shops, lobbies, or other business.
- The following are prohibited on lots abutting the street; drive-through facilities, vehicle sales or services that involve outdoor storage, gas stations, car washes, storage warehouses, and strip mall centers.
- No new curb cuts will be allowed, all vehicular entrances must be from an alley as well as any enclosed parking must not be visible from the designated street.
The restrictions are now viable for all projects moving forward although lots along both roads are limited but may come into play for any adaptive reuses in the future. The change also comes after a highly successful closed pedestrian street period for sections of W Fulton Street which saw a 25 percent increase in traffic due to it, while similar streets across the nation saw similar and up to 68 percent increases as well.
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This is glorious. I hope more parts of Chicago are designated pedestrian streets given the warm impact it gives to that community. The more walkable and pedestrian friendly our streets are, the greater impact it will have towards a synergistic experience for people and business alike.
The Fulton Market road is such a joy to walk through when the weather is nice, and I’d love to see it replicated across other neighborhoods.
I absolutely agree – we’re so addicted to our cars it’s insane that this level of success, joy, warmth, etc in a place isn’t immediately rolled out all over this city. It’s not just Chicago of course, car transportation is an American addiction that we seem willing to let degrade the quality of all of our other experiences in the name of convenience.
I absolutely love this, to bounce back from the effects of the pandemic, we need many more of these.
The 4 block stretch of Clark St in River North has out-performed anywhere else in the neighborhood in terms of vitality. There’s only 1 retail vacancy on these blocks which is far better than any other stretch on Clark for many blocks north.
Let’s work on getting this stretch of Clark converted to also officially being like Fulton St. It’s a joy to walk down these streets now but before the pandemic it was not – too many crazy car drivers, honking, crowded sidewalks…
If W Fulton Market St is an example of Pedestrian Streets then i am in favor of it. Yes, we need more of this in other areas, like Clark and Hubbard. Need to cut back on all the street parking in areas with high drop off/pick up.
Next, we need some ped streets through the Loop and River North!
get rid of angled parking on Randolph, an actually street wall is needed there.
I own a car and I would gladly give up quite a bit of the driving surface in this city for more streetscapes like this. Just give me a few main roads to get to the neighborhood and I don’t care how far away I have to park if I’m waking down streets like these.
This is so well said! This is what living in a city is all about. If we wanted a car-oriented existence, that’s literally the other 99% of the US to live in.
All good stuff…now can we get rid of those infernal electric scooters? These streets are going to be absolutely swarming with them and they degrade the pedestrian experience even more than cars do, since scooter operators don’t seem to abide by any rules or predictability in terms of movement.
Great first step. Would like to see cars removed from the street too, save for morning deliveries. Make it a true pedestrian street. The pandemic has shown how great it can be. Since its only half way developed, now would be a great time to make it happen. Let’s go Burnett!
Also, this potentially has a large impact on 1300 w. carroll since it now qualifies for TOD and doesn’t need 715 parking spots.
I think this unlocks TOD on both streets as the pedestrian st designation allows TOD within a half mile of EL stops vs 1/4mile for normal streets
This has already been tried on state st and it failed.
Please let it rest. That was 40 years ago and it was completely different than this. A smelly exhaust-fumed busway is not a pedestrian street.
Everyone in this comment section is fundamentally misunderstanding what a pedestrian street designation means. Cars are still allowed on the street, there is zero restriction on that. The designation just restricts things like setbacks, drive-thrus, curb-cuts, and surface parking lots to maintain a pedestrian-friendly sidewalk. I *wish* is actually restricted auto traffic but alas this is America and to restrict cars from even an inch of a city is basically treason
I think believe we understand but it’s good to still stress the points you made. But Fulton St in this area is very narrow for actual street space used for cars and that does make it a huge step in the right direction. It’s primarily that Chicago streets are super wide with no physical restrictions to slow cars that makes them so hostile to cyclists and pedestrians. Narrow them up to the widths of London streets and even some NYC streets and it becomes many times safer and more pleasant to be outside of a car on.
I’m new in Chicago and so far Fulton Street Market is one of my top favourites. I’m loving the experience of on street dining and retail without constantly being hassled by the filth of car traffic. Michigan Avenue style retail isn’t a thing anymore, it’s way too hustle and bustle. Certain parts of Chicago should embrace the European way just like in Amsterdam, Paris, London and Barcelona. Let’s have nice things and enjoy life for a change, shall we?
A few years ago I read an article that serious consideration was being given to closing (or half-closing) Randolph Street into a pedestrian zone. I hope this is seriously on the table as I think it would be a remarkable success with a ton of promise given Randolph width. Either the central drive could be turned into a pedestrian zone (ala’ Commonwealth Ave in Boston) or the service/frontage roads (ala’ LaRambla/Barcelona”). Either way please make it happen sooner rather than later!