At the corner of Schaumburg and Barrington Roads in Schaumburg, Illinois, sits an unmarked crosswalk. Can you see it? There are no pedestrian signals here, so follow the signals for cars. Good luck.
I posted my “Can we cross Belmont Avenue?” story in full to EveryBlock to get some reactions from neighbors who would be familiar with that specific crossing. As I suspected, there would be confusion about what the laws in Illinois say about the required behaviors of drivers when they encounter people trying to cross the street.
From Active Transportation Alliance promotional materials (pdf), it says,
As of 2010, Illinois drivers must come to a complete stop for pedestrians in all crosswalks. Previous law required them to yield and stop when necessary.
So what constitutes a crosswalk? Does there have to be paint on the ground from curb to curb? The answer is simply no. The legal definition of a crosswalk in Illinois may be confusing on the first read, but it introduces the concept of the “unmarked crosswalk”. The same promotional materials from Active Transportation Alliance, a leading proponent of the law, HB43, say “a crosswalk is present whenever a sidewalk leads into the street”. There doesn’t even need to be a sidewalk on the opposite side of the street.
The law is defined in Illinois Compiled Statutes (ILCS) 625 ILCS 5/1-113. Paragraph A essentially describes an unmarked crosswalk:
Sec. 1-113. Crosswalk.
(a) That part of a roadway at an intersection included within the connections of the lateral lines of the sidewalks on opposite sides of the highway measured from the curbs or, in the absence of curbs, from the edges of the traversable roadway, and in the absence of a sidewalk on one side of the highway, that part of the highway included within the extension of the lateral line of the existing sidewalk to the side of the highway without the sidewalk, with such extension forming a right angle to the centerline of the highway;
(b) Any portion of a roadway at an intersection or elsewhere distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by lines or other markings on the surface placed in accordance with the provisions in the Manual adopted by the Department of Transportation as authorized in Section 11-301.
(Source: P.A. 83-831.)
Just for fun, here’s the least useful crosswalk I’ve seen in Chicago.
Read some research on the effects of marked and unmarked crosswalk, from 2005 on the Federal Highway Administration’s website (FHWA).
Updated September 5, 2012, to add the text of the Illinois state law defining marked and unmarked crosswalks.
Grid Chicago is a blog about sustainable transportation matters, projects and culture in Chicago and Illinois, by John Greenfield and Steven Vance since June 2011. We switched to writing at Streetsblog Chicago in January 2013.
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