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Stop, in the Name of Law

By Patty Wetli | Monday, August 13, 2012

Illinois law requires drivers to stop when pedestrians are present in a striped crosswalk, even in the absence of a stop sign or traffic signal. As a gentle reminder that it’s not OK to mow down people as they attempt to cross the street, signage has popped up across the city, including locations in the 47th Ward.

According to Gabe Klein, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation, 3,000 man vs. machine collisions occur in Chicago each year, resulting in an average of 50 deaths. The “bright, in your face” signage is one of about 20 “traffic calming” measures the city plans to deploy to increase pedestrian safety, particularly that of children, the elderly and disabled.

In the 47th Ward, signs have been installed at the intersections of Addison and Hamilton Hermitage, Addison and Hoyne, and, most visibly, Lincoln and Leland. Look for additional signs at Lawrence and Washtenaw, Wilson and Virginia, Lincoln and Hutchinson, and Lincoln and Berenice. Locations were chosen based on calls and emails to the ward office coupled with traffic data.

Email questions about the signs or suggestions for locations to Bill Higgins, program analyst and coordinator for the 47th Ward, at bill@chicago47.org.

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  • http://twitter.com/poptartsd Sarah Dandelles

    (FYI The Bill Higgins link doesn’t work.) Thanks for this great reminder! One of the worst intersctions to try to cross as a pedestrian is Irving Park and Wolcott – there is a clearly marked crosswalk, but no one – police, busses, cars, minivans full of kids – no one stops to let pedestrians cross. The car culture here is outdated, insane and dangerous.

  • http://twitter.com/SabrinaD Sabrina D

    Great reminder and great to know this effort is happening- the intersection I see drivers clearly ignoring a cross walk is Hermitage and Lawrence- (By the Dunkin’ Donuts) Most likely because when you are driving- you can’t even see that there is a crosswalk there.  While I know there will be improvements next year, I wish one of the signs was being planned for that area now.

  • Aric Reffett

    @ Sarah – that’s because it is not a striped crosswalk. Cars are not supposed to stop for pedestrians unless it is striped. 

    • http://twitter.com/Allibally Allison F

      It’s actually for all crosswalks marked or unmarked. Not just the typical zebra crossing. 

  • http://twitter.com/kevinmmcelroy Kevin McElroy

    Agreed, these seem to help considerably. Could DEFINITELY use one next to Gross Park on Lawrence at Washtenaw. My kids and I have had plenty of brushes with death there and it’s pretty frightening.

    • pattyw

       One is coming soon to Lawrence and Washtenaw.

  • jkarczek

    I have to say that I like the placement of the new signs, as they are directly in a driver’s line of vision, and so easy to point to when drivers are overly aggressive. That said, traffic flows in this city are badly designed and managed, so this is only going to help so much. The DOT needs to better facilitate cars driving at even speeds if it wants to prevent accidents. I think at least some bad driver behavior is the result of the perception that driving faster whenever possible will result in a faster commute, when the reality is a marginally faster trip AT BEST, along with a lot of extra stress and increased odds of an accident. The more drivers are forced the stop, the more they tend to speed up where they feel they can in order to make up for perceived lost time. This especially creates more dangerous signaled intersections, as cars are constantly speeding to beat lights. The whole point of a speed limit is to increase the probability that a driver will have enough time to react to the unexpected. On that note, we also need more bumpouts to reduce illegal passing on the right, as well as physical barriers to restrict left turns onto side streets from arterials. As someone who logs a lot of miles on foot, I also think that there shouldn’t be a crossing every block along major arterials, and that drivers should legally be able to do rolling stops when there are no pedestrians or other cars near an intersection or crossing. Add to this seriously escalated penalties for any contact with a pedestrian in a legal crossing as well as the new speed cameras, and I think we’d have better regulated streets that keep safety in mind while offering drivers more predictable flows.

  • http://profiles.google.com/matrix.underworld Paul Najera

    How about Western & Eastwood? Lots of people cross to get to the Brown Line. 

  • http://spudart.org/ spudart

    As a pedestrian who crosses Lincoln and Leland daily, I greatly appreciate the sign. Since it was installed at that location, the cars have been better at allowing pedestrians to cross the street. 

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