The Chicago region’s new comprehensive plan, ON TO 2050, includes a recommendation to support the development of compact, walkable communities. The recommendation is based on recent surveys and home buying trends indicating a growing desire for mixed-use communities with walkable amenities in both urban and suburban areas, as well as research that shows walkability and density are important to support efficient transit services. However, during the development of ON TO 2050 it became clear that a critical component of the walkability analysis was missing -- there was no regional data on sidewalks -- until now.
CMAP staff recently analyzed approximately 30,000 miles of roads in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will counties to determine the existence of sidewalks on one or both sides of the street and whether there is a barrier between traffic and the sidewalk. The resulting dataset shows that the availability, quality, and safety of sidewalks around the region varies greatly. The final product, a database now publicly available on the CMAP Data Hub, is a tool for understanding communities' pedestrian infrastructure needs, including how to prioritize sidewalk improvements. Read more on CMAP’s website about how your community can use the Sidewalk Inventory data.