I was walking south along Morgan Street outside Daley Library the other day. Morgan is the western edge of part of the East Side of campus – the part that runs between that cul-de-sac / pedestrian thoroughfare outside the Newman Center to the north and Taylor to the south. (Until the mid-1980’s, Morgan was not interrupted by a cul-de-sac, it continued north, running right between BSB and UH, severing the peninsula of the East Side that runs west along Harrison to Racine where BSB and those huge Parking Lots 1A and 1B are situated.)
Where was I? Oh, yeah. I remember.
I was walking down the sidewalk minding my own business when a wild fox (!!) strutted out from between a couple of those townhouses that face Daley Library; crossed over the southbound lane of Morgan, the wide median strip, the northbound lane, and the sidewalk and then, much to the fright and chagrin of a couple of resident squirrels which raced up the nearest tree, sauntered under the chain fence and onto the grass by the Library.
I was not the only one who noticed this gorgeous, reddish brown creature, but, being more Fred Flintstone than George Jetson when it comes to technological gizmos, I was probably the only one not equipped with a cell phone / camera / PDA / whatever with which to snap its picture to capture the moment and instantly transmit to all my BFFs.
The fox was very patient and cooperative, assuming several photogenic poses for those of us lucky enough to be present at that place at that moment in time. There we were, on a large college campus at the edge of the downtown business districts of one of the biggest cities in the country, nay, the world, watching a full-grown wild fox do its thing. That was pretty cool.
Now comes the point (that always has to come in these ramblings of mine) where I have to relate my ramblings to the Campus Master Plan. This is the weekly “And now a word from our sponsor” moment.
Although I hope there is nothing in the implementation of the Master Plan that would prevent future generations of the genus Vulpes from entertaining members of the Class of 2040 and beyond, this is going to be about Morgan Street, its median strip, and its cul-de-sac, not Br’er Fox or any of its offspring.
According to the consultants, the cul-de-sac is not where it should be because it sits between where students and faculty are coming from (the aforementioned BSB and those monster parking lots) and where they want to go (the rest of the East Side) and vice versa. Its current location creates what the consultants like to call a “vehicular pedestrian conflict” – a nice euphemism for the threat of getting run over by a delivery truck.
According to the UIC College of Cycling (it’s really a club of two-wheeled enthusiasts, not a degree-granting campus organization, but don’t tell them I told you), that wide and tall median strip poses a major obstacle for connecting the two sides of campus via a potential Polk Street bicycle route. Coming from the west on Polk, a person on a bike cannot (legally) cross Morgan to get to the Library and beyond. There is no appropriate avenue inviting pedestrians to cross here either.
In the humble opinion of this rapidly aging blogger, the Morgan Street cul-de-sac needs to be pulled south to eliminate the student versus panel van confrontations and create a more appropriate walkway, while maintaining access into and egress out of the Newman Center parking lot. And, there needs to be a break in the median strip to facilitate the flow of bikes and pedestrians moving westward from the East Side of campus and, perhaps when the stars align, from the West Side eastward.
Question of the Week: Have you seen any foxes on campus lately?
Until next Friday…