Fatality Tracker: Why we do it, and bringing transit up-to-date


2012 Chicago fatality stats*:

Pedestrian: 22 (10 have been hit-and-run crashes)
Pedalcyclist: 5 (1 is a hit-and-run crash)
Transit: 8 (our last update listed 7)

This is a special Fatality Tracker post. There were no pedestrian, pedalcyclist, or transit fatalities in Chicago recently. This post brings our transit number up-to-date as it was missing one person. I also wanted to explain why we publish Fatality Tracker.

On March 2, 2012, a man was struck by a CTA train at the Grand Red Line subway station. “Fire Department officials said the unidentified man was pinned under the trains at the station at 521 N. State at 5:45 p.m.”, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. The article quoted Thank you to Tracy Swartz for helping us ensure that we were aware of all the fatal incidents.

Why Fatality Tracker?

I answered the question myself in April, but it’s useful to give others’ perspectives on the reasoning behind the sorrowful task of making a list of how and when people died. The following blockquotes are reader responses to an anonymous commenter on a post from September 2012 about the cab driver whose car killed Eric Kerestes.

There is a very real downside to transportation in this city in that sometimes people die. And far too often, these deaths could be prevented. We can not and should not sweep incidents like this under the rug. It needs to be made known, so we can see the current reality of transportation and discuss what needs improvement. Ignoring it in favor of pretty pictures and feel-good stories won’t make it go away. -BlueFairlane

That’s why.

GridChicago exists to fill a very clear void in local transportation reporting; in terms of ped-transportation-death tracking as well as a wide assortment of other non-private-motorized transportation matters. -Kevin M

That’s why.

It’s purpose is to bring to light the dangerous situations walkers and bikers face in Chicago on a day-to-day basis. This blog would certainly love to never post another entry to the fatality tracker, but the sad reality is that people are getting killed far too often by crazy, unsafe motorists. -Adam Herstein

Again, that’s why we do it.

* The information is only accurate as of this post’s publishing time. View previous Fatality Tracker posts. Overhead photo of the ‘L’ by Clark Maxwell.

11 thoughts on “Fatality Tracker: Why we do it, and bringing transit up-to-date”

  1. Data collection and analysis like you’re doing is necessary to find out where problem areas are. Just reporting incidents itself isn’t enough. One person being hit and killed at a location may be a single issue that can’t be solved by a design change (eg, driver is distracted or drunk, victim is distracted or drunk, etc, etc). Multiple people over time at the same place or similar circumstances, OTOH, is a much different story. But that kind of analysis (morbid though it may be) is a necessity.

    1. This is difficult to analyze, mainly because I don’t know where the girls were when the driver’s SUV hit them.

      There are marked crosswalks at Cornelia (3500 North) and Addison (3600 North). From the WGN video, the black SUV is stopped just before the southern limit of the northbound left-turn lane for turning left onto Addison. This puts the car 377 north of the Cornelia intersection and 233 feet south of the Addison intersection. South of this location there’s a sidewalk from Lane Tech leading to Western Avenue. It’s only 122 feet north of Cornelia.

      As it exists now, it’s possible to add a pedestrian refuge island at Cornelia without affecting any traffic or parking. It should be added, immediately.

      It’s unclear what effect BRT would have at Cornelia. It appears that pedestrian refuge islands are compatible only with scenario 3 (where there are not left-turn lanes, like at Cornelia), and in some places compatible with scenario 2 (only at intersections with stations, of which Cornelia would not be one).

      Scenarios: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesbondsv/8096099066/

  2. The Metra accident is just horrific. It sounds like the mother was trying to beat the train, and she lost her life while her two sons were hurt. I know that some of these transit deaths are suicides or involve extreme drunkenness, but I think a lot of people mistakenly believe they can beat the train if it “looks” far enough away. I was once on the back of a motorcycle when the driver decided to swerve around the gate and cross the tracks. I saw the train, and it was close — seconds away. We had a screaming fight about it because she really did almost get us both killed. There should be more education about this.

    1. There should really be no debate. The answer to “Should I go?” must always be no. While your chances of beating may “not be so bad”, the result when you are impacted is pretty much complete annihilation.

      We didn’t cover that story because they weren’t using transit.

      1. Sorry, I didn’t meant to imply that it’s your job to educate people about not walking or driving in front of trains — you have your hands full already! And I think readers of this blog already know. I just think the state should be airing PSA’s or something, since this keeps happening with Metra in particular.

  3. “There were no pedestrian, pedalcyclist, or transit fatalities in Chicago recently.” This is not true. On October 5th, bicyclist Neill Townsend was killed during his morning commute down Wells. If you have included his information in the five you’ve referenced, please accept my apologies – I was just surprised by that sentence.

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