SkyscraperCity Forum banner

Landscaped islands in some of the city's 3-way intersections?

6799 Views 14 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  arenn
I'm just curious if anybody thinks that some of Chicago's 3 way intersections would benefit from small landscaped islands (perhaps with a decorative element), which could work to improve the intersection's sense of enclosure and calm traffic by way of creating a semi-circular intersection--thus improving the pedestrian experience?

Here are some conceptual examples randomly found on Google:


Example of a landscaped island:

Example in an urban area (not as landscaped in this case as I would like):

Here are just some streetview examples of intersections in Chicago where they could potentially be applied:,309.84,,0,5,290,,0,5,9.6,,0,4.9,168.22,,0,5,133.02,,0,5,248.32,,0,5,248.32,,0,5

Any thoughts?
See less See more
1 - 15 of 15 Posts
Chicagoans don't know how to handle roundabouts. Period. On the northside, some neighborhoods have them on the side street. Normally, you are supposed to drive around the roundabout to turn left, but Chicagoans turn left in front of it. This is very dangerous.

On a larger road it might be better, people can handle the Logan/Milwaukee/Kedzie circle pretty well. However, that circle is anything but pedestrian friendly.
I don't see how that's a 3-way intersection?

I'll also admit that when I do drive and come across those roundabouts on the small side-streets, I always just turn left in front of it. I know what you're suppose to do, but screw that.
I don't see how that's a 3-way intersection?
I think he meant a 3-street, 6-way intersection

I know what you're suppose to do, but screw that.
Exactly my point.
Good opportunity for that in my neck of the woods where Chicago, Milwaukee and Ogden meet. There is an island (all concrete) in the intersection with a subway entrance(which is poorly planned in my opinion considering that you then have to cross a street to get to anything).

Coincidentally, there is a small roundabout just north of there on May and Fry. Landscaped. The only one I've seen in this part of town (and yes, people turn in front of it).
Well Chicago already has landscaped medians on its wider boulevards (Irving Park Ave, Michigan Ave, to name just a couple that I can think of right now), and several sidewalks have also been planted with trees and nice light fixtures... I don't think that landscaped islands are necessary for aesthetic purposes. It's a great idea, but I think there are other priorities. Plus, roundabouts are just not a part of Chicago culture (for major intersections), or American culture in general, so it would be a bit silly to introduce them.
I would try it out.
It's interesting (to me, at least) that traffic circles were a part of modern traffic engineering in the early 20th century, but as far as I can determine there was only one ever built in the entire Chicago area: the one at Wolf Road in Des Plaines. Unless you count Logan Square.
Seattle has a lot of these in neighborhoods, and I have to say, they are the greatest traffic invention known to mankind.

The people who don't know how to handle roundabouts can be dealt with very easily by a small sign that shows a counter-clock-wise arrow around a dot. Some of the roundabouts here have them, and they're fairly self explanatory.

But anyway, they're great. As a driver, they don't have the annoyingness of stop signs when you're just cruising through the neighborhood, but still force you to pay attention to the intersection and all directions. As a pedestrian, I feel safer crossing at roundabouts than at stop signs, simply because I know I have greater visibility to drivers and it's more obvious about right of way.

EDIT: I also have to add that existing intersection don't even need to be reshaped to accomodate them. A lot of the intersections in my neighborhood very clearly look like normal intersections that later had the traffic circle added. Google maps link to my neighborhood - you can see most of the sidestreets have them.,179.89,,0,11.81
See less See more
Milwaukee, Kedzie and Logan blvd isn't really a true roundabout, although as someone who lives in the 'hood. I don't think it's dangerous at all to pedestrians who follow traffic lights, which is probably why it isn't a true roundabout. I've experienced those in other countries and they're nothing alike.
Except that Chicago has refused to use mini-roundabouts as intended. Instead, they use them as traffic-enraging devices, keeping the stop signs when they're installed. They put them on cul-de-sacs. Somewhere around Monroe/Western there's even one with a traffic signal!
Most roundabouts are incorrectly designed. If designed right, use of the roundabout should be a no-brainer.

A couple of years ago, it seemd there was a push for round-abouts in some of the trade publications abd by some of the better-connected traffic designers. But they really are something that needs a lot of ROW space, which is hard to find in a developed City.
It's interesting (to me, at least) that traffic circles were a part of modern traffic engineering in the early 20th century, but as far as I can determine there was only one ever built in the entire Chicago area: the one at Wolf Road in Des Plaines. Unless you count Logan Square.
There's another one in Brookfield:,-87.849759&spn=0.005796,0.013905&t=h&z=17
Well, that was more of a focal point for downtown Grossdale than a work of traffic engineering. Should we also count Arcade Square in Pullman? Conti Circle in Elmwood Park?
CDOT did a neighborhood briefing in my area and according to their representative, it is ok to turn left in front of the island. I think they are viewed mainly as traffic calming devices to slow people down on side streets, not for intersection control purposes. Wasn't the first installation on something like Glenwood where discouraging commuter traffic with these islands was the idea?

The diagram for TUP included is for a modern roundabout. These are not traditional traffic circles. Not the deflected entryways, a deliberately built up center island to reduce visibility of oncoming cars, pedestrian respite zones, different yield rules, smaller diameters, and lower speeds. They are becoming more widely used in suburban areas.

The Indianapolis suburbs, especially Carmel, are making heavy use of them, including roundabout based interchanges. They are fantastic and make sense in the places where there is ROW to support them. Not sure if the city of Chicago is the place, however.
See less See more
1 - 15 of 15 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.