Opportunity to invest in sidewalks near Metra
Metra stations are located in all types of communities in the metropolitan area, from urban neighborhoods in Chicago, to inner ring suburbs, as well as more rural parts of the region. Sidewalk availability ranges widely near stations across the system due to variation in adjacent land uses, population and employment density, and the built environment.
With the scarcity of funding available, investments in sidewalks can have the greatest impact when they are targeted to the locations where they will have the highest use. To identify such areas, the analysis uses the net ratio of missing sidewalks compared to area employment and population, in addition to the percentage of roads missing sidewalks. Opportunity to invest is shown by the size of each station, with the larger sizes representing stations where there are significant lengths of roads without sidewalks relative to area density. The color of each station shows the percentage of sidewalk coverage in each study area. Metra and CTA rail stations were considered separately due to differences in land use patterns between Chicago and the rest of the region.
Analysis showed that within one half mile of stations, 35 out of 242 Metra stations have excellent coverage with sidewalk on one or both sides of at least 99 percent of roads. Eighteen stations have less than 50 percent sidewalk coverage. The stations that are missing more than 50 percent of their sidewalks are nearly all in the “high opportunity” classification (represented by large dots) that have a high net distance of streets without sidewalks relative to the area population and employment.
The “high opportunity” stations (the largest dots) that are light and medium blue show areas with a mismatch between area density and total distance of sidewalks. These stations all have at least 50 percent sidewalk coverage, high total distances of roads, but moderate population and job density. Near these stations, there may be opportunity for residential or multi-use development to take advantage of existing assets that include an initial, though likely incomplete, sidewalk network.
Opportunity to invest in sidewalks near CTA stations with high job density outside the Loop
The roads near CTA rail stations have high sidewalk coverage relative to the rest of the region. Three of 144 stations have less than 90 percent sidewalk coverage within one half mile: Rosemont and Cumberland on the Blue line and Ashland on the Orange line.
Relative to area population and employment density, the Cumberland and Ashland stations present high opportunity for sidewalk investment to close critical network gaps. Near the Cumberland station, high job density and the prevalence of fast-moving arterial roads illustrates the mismatch between people in the area and available pedestrian infrastructure. Similarly, there is also a mismatch of area employees and available sidewalks at the Ashland station on the Orange Line. Streets lacking sidewalks in this area are primarily found in the industrial area north of the rail station along the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. Despite good transit access, existing infrastructure near both stations caters to funneling vehicles into adjacent employment destinations rather than creating safe pedestrian pathways.
In the City of Chicago, there are two distinct clusters of stations where there is high opportunity to improve the sidewalk network (areas where density is high relative to the distance of missing sidewalks).
One cluster is found on the Red line between the Sox-35th Street Station and the 47th-Dan Ryan station. On the north side of this cluster, sidewalk is primarily missing on roads that serve parking lots near Sox Park.
The second cluster of stations is found on the Green line between Cicero and the Conservatory-Central Park station. In this cluster, roads missing sidewalks are found in areas with light industrial land use and relatively high residential density. The neighborhoods within one half mile of the stations in this cluster are all located in Economically Disconnected Areas, or areas with higher than average concentrations of low-income households and households of color or limited English proficiency. These areas have disparate outcomes when it comes to education attainment, income, unemployment and commute times. Ensuring these residents can safely access available transit is one way to work toward the ON TO 2050 recommendation to leverage the transportation network to promote inclusive growth.
Other high opportunity areas for sidewalk investments exist in communities near the end of rail lines with land use patterns more typical of suburban areas. These stations include the Linden Station in Evanston, the Dempster station in Skokie, and the Forest Park Station on the south branch of the Blue Line.