Many advocates envision Chicago’s boulevards as a key to the city’s environmental future. One architecture firm, UrbanLab, would like to transform these streets into “eco boulevards” that could treat the city’s wastewater and storm water naturally. UrbanLab has partnered with the City of Chicago to cultivate the Eco-Boulevard project. Learn more about the Eco-Boulevard Project.
Another firm, TGDA, imagines a string of biodiverse urban forests along the boulevards that would serve as habitat for birds and insects: “This idea of connecting parks via treed boulevards has renewed importance today. People are commuting by bike and foot and having a shaded, comfortable place to do so is important. As animal habitat decreases world-wide, it is critical that green space can provide pathways for birds and insects to migrate. This two-mile stretch of King Drive, from 35th to 51st, gives people and animals a better chance at moving through the city.” Read more about the biodiverse urban forests.
Bicycling advocates want to create “bike boulevards” which would ease auto congestion and serve as major thoroughfares for two-wheeled traffic. They believe that congestion, pollution, and traffic accidents can all be reduced by creating bike boulevards. Explore bike boulevards at bikeboulevardsnow.org.
The Bike 2015 Plan is the City of Chicago’s vision to make bicycling an integral part of daily life in Chicago. The plan recommends projects, programs, and policies for the next 10 years to encourage use of this practical, non-polluting, and affordable mode of transportation. According to the Bike 2010 website,
"Encouraging bicycling begins with convenient and safe places to ride. The plan proposes a 500-mile bikeway network, establishing a bikeway within a half-mile of every Chicago resident. Bikeways to priority destinations, including schools, universities, and transit stations, are proposed. Bicyclists’ needs should be considered in the planning, design, construction, and maintenance of all streets. Special attention should be given to bicycling whenever bridges, underpasses, and expressways are constructed or improved so these facilities do not become significant barriers to bicycling. Road hazards such as potholes, broken glass, and sewer grates that trap bicycle wheels should be identified on a regular basis and repaired quickly."