What Chicago Pedestrians Need To Know: Safety Programs
My Chicago injury attorney colleague, Jonathan Rosenfeld
and I were recently talking about the severity of injuries sustained by pedestrians in our cities. As lawyers who represent victims of these accidents we were discussing some preventative measures our respective cities can take to help make walking though our cities a little safer. Jonathan was kind enough to share some the ambitious safety plans that Chicago is implementing to reduce the number of pedestrian accidents and fatalities.
In 2011, the city of Chicago put together an analysis of the pedestrian accidents
that happened between 2005 and 2009 involving motor vehicles. The study is part of an ongoing initiative to improve pedestrian safety and increase awareness of the issue in the Chicago area. The crash analysis is the first part of the city’s agenda to create a “Pedestrain Plan” that will target safety measures for pedestrians and a public awareness campaign on safety.
Safety Programs to Make Getting Around Chicago a Little Safer
The city of Chicago has implemented many programs over the years to target pedestrian safety. These programs will be instrumental in the ongoing investigation into how the city can make the streets of Chicago safer for pedestrians. Several programs are in place to increase pedestrian safety.
- The Mayor’s Pedestrain Advisory Council. This council meets four times a year to discuss pedestrian safety. The members of the council include representation from different city departments along with people from the health care, enforcement, disability rights and other community groups. The council discusses pedestrian issues pertaining to safety, public awareness, enforcement and brainstorms on ideas for pedestrian planning.
- Safe Streets For Chicago. This initiative was started in 2006 and combined existing programs and initiatives working towards pedestrian safety. It is comprised of the Chicago Police and Transportation Departments along with the Office of Emergency Management and Communications.
- Safe Routes Ambassadors. This is Chicago’s outreach team to teach pedestrian and bicycle safety to children. The ambassadors meet with thousands of children each year through the elementary school system doing in-class presentations and on-foot training.
- Safe Routes For Seniors. Focusing on seniors, this program conducts awareness seminars at local senior centers, residences and health fairs on walking benefits and safety.
- Pedestrian Safety Enforcement. This encompasses continuing efforts to enforce pedestrian safety laws, especially in known high-crash areas. Off-duty undercover policeman have been posing as pedestrians to catch motorists who do not yield.
- Countdown Timers. These timers have been installed across the city to help reduce pedestrian crashes at intersections. The timers let pedestrians know how much time they have to cross and have been proven effective in reducing accidents.
- Refuge Islands/Curb Extensions/Signal Timing. These initiatives are being implemented by the CDOT and increase the amount of time traffic signals allow for pedestrian crossing and reduce the amount of distance they must cover to cross the street. This is especially beneficial for children and senior safety.
Pedestrian safety resources:
- Traffic Calming. These tools help slow down traffic using speed humps and bumps, traffic circles, curb bump outs and street closures. They all focus on slowing or reducing traffic, especially in residential areas.