Chicago to implement 'Open Streets' program to make more room for pedestrians

Get ready to have a little more room, Chicago.

On Friday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a number of major commercial and residential streets would soon be closed to car traffic and open to pedestrians, cyclists and outdoor diners.

"We all know how hard it is on busy sidewalks and this simply makes it easier,” Lightfoot said.

As part of the Phase 3 reopening, the new pilot program will block streets to vehicle traffic so restaurants can set up tables and chairs outside.

"It is important that we show how outdoor dining can be done in a safe, orderly way, and allow our residents a little rest and relaxation in an incredibly stressful time,” Lightfoot said.

The first six streets to close, as part of the "pilot" phase of the program, are 75th Street from Calumet to Indiana, Broadway from Belmont down to Diversey, 26th Street from Central Park to Harding, Rush Street from Oak to Cedar, Taylor Street from Loomis to Ashland, and Randolph in the West Loop.

"We cannot allow these open streets to turn into street festivals, and we will not. These are for seated dining only,” Lightfoot said.

But bikers and walkers benefit, too. Also announced was a plan to turn residential streets into shared streets, by blocking them to "through-traffic."

"We'll block off the ends, put up some signs, you can still park your car, but it's not meant for through traffic, it's meant for folks to get a little space and to move around and do so safely,” said Gia Biagi of the Chicago Department of Transportation.

The mayor says if the pilot program is successful, it could expand into more areas of Chicago.