This week I attended a meeting hosted by the University of Chicago to share their proposed plan to allow two-way traffic for the entirety of 57th Street. Over 90% of the participants in the meeting opposed this change and shared their concerns about the implications to safety and community livability. It was not clear to us at the end of the meeting whether they care about the opinions of community members or if changes would be made based upon the concerns raised.
This grab for control of public resources by a powerful private entity without any engagement from elected officials or city agencies is deeply troubling. The University of Chicago should spend their time and resources advocating for Hyde Park to be more accessible to pedestrians and bicyclists through:
• additional protected bike lanes,
• improved sidewalks with regular maintenance so that they can be used easily by folks with mobility needs,
• building overpass access above Cornell and Stony Island to MSI and the lake,
• improved and more frequent public transportation.
They should abandon this Robert Moses inspired "cars before people" plan that disregards the residents of this neighborhood, and disproportionately endangers the youth and elderly, in order to advance the interests of commuters with large carbon footprints seeking to speed through our streets. The University of Chicago should stop advocating for urban planning with limited transparency using cherry-picked data, faulty assumptions and an extremely limited analysis of the local area.
To truly improve livability in Hyde Park, our elected officials should work with residents and city agencies to improve 55th and 53rd traffic patterns so that they can be less congested and more pedestrian friendly. This is the work of government and not a private entity acting independently. 57th Street as it is should become a model for a livable, walkable, green, urban lifestyle to be emulated instead of just another throughway with smog, traffic and tragic car-involved injuries and deaths.