Did You Know?

Roughly every three days, one person biking or walking is killed by someone driving a car in the Chicago region.

Working for safe crossings on North Ave.

North Ave., between Oak Park and Ridgeland Avenues on the border of Chicago and Oak Park, presents many challenges for pedestrians.

This road has pedestrian crossing signals that currently don’t work, faded crosswalks, no tactile or wheelchair ramps at the corner and pedestrians must walk a half a mile just to cross North Ave. at Elmwood Ave.

These are all serious problems, especially considering that there’s a children’s museum on this stretch of road that hosted 61,000 visitors last year.

The museum, called Wonder Works, is located just inside Oak Park at its border with the city of Chicago.

Fortunately, efforts have been underway to make this stretch of North Ave. a better place for people walking and biking.

Thanks to the North Avenue Zoning and Development Advisory Committee (NAZDAC), a “walkability assessment” was conducted to identify existing problems. Among other recommendations, the assessment called for a north-south crosswalk near the Wonder Works Museum and the completion of a streetscape plan that includes a pedestrian island near the museum. 

North Ave. improvement efforts have been in the works since December 2013, when 29th Ward Alderman Deborah Graham announced to the public that she would like to put together a sustainability plan for her entire ward.

This led to the formation of a Transportation Advisory Committee, which serves as a voice of the community on active transportation issues. The North Avenue Zoning and Development Advisory Committee has been pushing the work of the transportation committee for seven months.

As preparation for work on North Ave., NAZDAC met with a group of people who worked on a similar project on Roosevelt Road between Austin Blvd. and Harlem Ave. in Oak Park.

The group included the past president of Oak Park, as well as members of the South East Oak Park Community Organization and the Roosevelt Road Business Association.

NAZDAC considers the Roosevelt Road Redevelopment Project a model for what the North Ave. project will accomplish. The Roosevelt project installed pedestrian-friendly bump outs and ADA-compliant wheelchair ramps.

If you would like to get involved with this work, please contact Tom Drebenstedt at

Photo courtesy of Google Street View