CDOT launches pedestrian safety campaign


Photo of attention-grabbing mannequins on Wacker Drive represent the 32 people in 2010 who, while walking, were killed by drivers and automobiles in Chicago. Photo by Kevin Zolkiewicz.

Grid Chicago reader Kevin Zolkiewicz has written about the City of Chicago’s campaign to reduce pedestrian fatalities to zero by 2020.

Among the most visible of the initiatives are 32 mannequins that have been installed along Wacker Drive between Wells Street and Michigan Avenue. Each mannequin represents a pedestrian killed in Chicago last year. Klein hopes that the mannequins, combined with other campaign ads that will be plastered on buses, street furniture, and trash bins throughout the city, will encourage drivers to stay alert for pedestrians.

CDOT’s pedestrian safety campaign will involve 15 different initiatives — ranging from awareness campaigns to enforcement — that the agency hopes will change driver behavior and make the city a safer place for pedestrians. Read the full article.

Grid Chicago’s John Greenfield also attended the press conference this morning at 10 AM at Wacker and Wabash and will be writing about it for tomorrow’s feature.

By my count, using data from the Illinois Department of Transportation, there were 3,064 reported crashes in which at least one person labeled a “pedestrian” was involved. There were several crashes where more than one pedestrian was involved, but I selected unique case numbers from the dataset. I was able to agree that there were 32 pedestrian fatalities in 2010. No crash had more than one pedestrian fatality.

There were no pedestrian fatalities in crashes where the “cause code” was “distracted by phone or electronic communication device” or “distracted by other electronic device (including DVD and GPS)”. Only 8 crashes had one of those cause codes.

According to the Chicago Department of Transportation on Twitter, the mannequins will be visiting other neighborhoods

Moving words at Active Transportation Alliance’s 25th anniversary gala


Steven, Bike and Roll Chicago’s Josh Squire and John (note that the signs were compulsory, so our journalistic credibility should be intact). Photo by Serge Lubomudrov.

Last week dozens of key players in Chicago’s sustainable transportation scene gathered under one roof at the Illinois Institute of Technology (3241 S Federal St) to help Active Transportation Alliance (formerly Chicagoland Bicycle Federation) celebrate 25 years of advocacy.

Joining them was U.S. Department of Transportation Assistant Secretary Polly Trottenberg, there to accept Active Trans’ Extra Mile Award to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood for his leadership in providing safety initiatives and sustainable transportation to local communities. Also in attendance were two legendary transportation gurus: Mia Birk from Alta Planning + Design in Portland, Oregon, and “Gridlock” Sam Schwartz from Sam Schwartz Engineering in NYC.

It was an inspiring celebration and a terrific opportunity for Steven and me to network and learn more about local initiatives. While the $150-a-plate price tag was understandable for an upscale fundraising dinner for Active Trans, it was a bit steep for a couple of humble bloggers. Fortunately, Ben H. and Suzanne C. generously offered us seats at their tables so we could report on the event for you.

Continue reading Moving words at Active Transportation Alliance’s 25th anniversary gala

Can Saturday’s Open Streets on State Street convince City Hall to fund the next ciclovía?

[flickr]photo:6198220998[/flickr]2009 Open Streets: left-to-right, in orange shirts, Lucy Gomez-Feliciano, Adolfo Hernandez, Rob Sadowsky

[This article also runs in Newcity magazine.]

“On State Street, that great street, I just want to say
They do things they don’t do on Broadway”
– “Chicago (That Toddlin’ Town)” by Fred Fisher

The question is, can Chicago do on State Street what New York City already does successfully, not on Broadway but on Park Avenue; what San Francisco does on Grant Avenue; and what Bogotá, Colombia, does on Calle 11?

Born in Bogotá, “ciclovía” (Spanish for “bike path”) events close streets to motorized traffic, creating safe spaces for citizens to bicycle, jog, stroll, play and mingle, encouraging healthy recreation and social interaction. Ciclovías are now popular around the world, and most of America’s bike-friendly major cities are holding successful events, but the model still hasn’t gained a foothold in Chicago.

This could change after Saturday’s Open Streets on State Street ciclovía, when for five hours the sight, sound and smell of hundreds of automobiles, cabs and buses on the famous thoroughfare will be replaced by thousands of people enjoying a giant block party. The free event takes place from 10 am to 3 pm, with State Street closed to traffic between Lake and Van Buren. Vehicles will be permitted to cross the route at Madison and Monroe.

Continue reading Can Saturday’s Open Streets on State Street convince City Hall to fund the next ciclovía?

Residents choose what they like for a 35th Ward student active transportation plan


On September 1st, 2011, at the St. Sylvester fieldhouse across from Palmer Square Park, residents of the 35th Ward, encompassing Logan Square, gathered to hear an introduction to the 35th Ward Student Active Transportation Plan. The 35th Ward office has hired Sam Schwartz Engineering (SSE) to conduct public meetings, gather residents’ input, and craft a plan to make biking and walking easier and safer around schools and parks in the ward. Continue reading Residents choose what they like for a 35th Ward student active transportation plan

After Lolla crash CDOT says Queen’s Landing crosswalk will re-open

[flickr]photo:6054914196[/flickr]Fencing installed to keep pedestrians from crossing LSD at Queen’s Landing

[This piece also appears in Time Out Chicago.]

Gabe Klein’s words were eerily prescient. In July I asked the new Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) chief if he’d consider re-installing the signalized crosswalk that had allowed pedestrians to safely cross from Buckingham Fountain to Monroe Harbor for 17 years until Mayor Daley removed it. “I would like to put it back,” he said. “People are crossing anyway and they’re running across Lake Shore Drive.”

On August 6, during Eminem’s set at Lollapalooza, as dozens of kids ran across the drive attempting to jump the fences on the east side of the festival, two young men were struck by a car, sustaining serious-to-critical injuries, as they tried to sprint across the ten lanes of traffic east of the fountain.

Continue reading After Lolla crash CDOT says Queen’s Landing crosswalk will re-open

Talking transportation with 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett Jr.


Alderman Burnett with John

[This piece also runs on the website Gapers Block.]

This is the first of a series of interviews I hope to conduct with all fifty Chicago aldermen about walking, biking and transit issues in their wards. As “mini mayors,” these City Council representatives have a huge influence on the kinds of projects that are built in their districts.

For example, a handful of aldermen have opted to use menu money discretionary funds to stripe additional bicycle lanes in their wards or to bankroll innovative transportation projects, like the Albany Home Zone traffic-calmed block in Logan Square. On the other hand, they can stand in the way of progress, like when former 50th Ward Alderman Berny Stone vetoed a bike bridge on the North Shore Channel Trail in West Rogers Park. Continue reading Talking transportation with 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett Jr.