Walkability in the western suburbs


The intersection of Schaumburg and Barrington Roads in Schaumburg, Illinois, does not have painted crosswalks or crosswalk signals. The crossing distance is 100 feet, without a median. There are intersections that do, but perhaps not the ones that are the most difficult to cross. 

Recent pedestrian fatalities have illustrated how dangerous the western suburbs can be for pedestrians.

On October 17, a 30-year old man was struck and killed by a driver traveling southbound on Roselle Road, near Kingsport Drive, in Schaumburg (mapDaily Herald, Chicago Tribune). The nearest signalized crossings for pedestrians are 1/4 mile to the north, and 1/4 to the south, of this location.

Two weeks later, a 69-year old man was struck and killed by a driver traveling southbound on Glen Ellyn Road, near Winthrop Road, in Carol Stream (mapDaily Herald, Carol Stream Press).

Both accidents took place after sunset, during the evening. No citations were issued to the drivers in either incident. The similarities in both incidents reflect how the built environment of the suburbs leads to dangerous conditions for pedestrians.

Both Glen Ellyn Road and Schaumburg Road have four lanes (two in each direction); the former carries just over 20,000 vehicles daily, while the latter just over 30,000 vehicles. However, only Schaumburg Road has even a median for pedestrians to wait before completing their crossing. Glen Ellyn Road lacks both a median and street lighting, while Schaumburg Road has street lighting on the west side of the street. The speed limit on both streets is 40 MPH, a speed likely reached in both incidents due to their distances from the nearest traffic signal.

Walking in the suburbs, and particularly the western suburbs, is difficult, because many amenities are well over a 30 minute walk away. Both of these cases show that walking across the street can be deadly for those that are trying to get to the corner store or restaurant across the street.

There are multiple difficulties involved when trying to improve conditions for pedestrians in suburban areas. Suburban areas can be large in area, but have a relatively small tax base compared to a similar sized area in the city. As a result, suburban governments often lack funding for making changes in infrastructure that benefit pedestrians. Multiple agencies are often responsible for poor conditions at the edges of suburban communities, and there is a lack of political will and coordination to make these fixes.

There is also a large cultural barrier to promoting non-vehicular modes of transportation. 92% of the population in Schaumburg commutes to work via a car, while 96% of the working age population in Glendale Heights commutes to work in a car (American Community Survey).

Did you get a response to your comment about the Damen/Elston/Fullerton project?


Showing in red the right of way of the new road and showing in a transparent blue the property that will be affected and where property will have to be acquired.

In my article on Steven Can Plan about the project to recreate the six-way intersection of Damen, Elston, and Fullerton Avenues, I asked readers to submit comments to the project manager. I received a response to my comments on November 10, 2011, and I know of at least one other person who received a response to his comments. (This was back in April 2011.)

If you also received a response, I’d like to read it and share it here. The responses will help us understand the status of the project and how the design process is going. Send me a copy of the response you received: steven @ gridchicago.com. Next week I’ll be posting a new article and the response I received.


Perhaps if the intersection has room for safe cycling, then people won’t feel the need to cycle on the sidewalks. 

Javier Perez’s full speech to the CTA board

It’s probably too late for me to post this, seeing as the Chicago Transit Authority board approved the budget on Tuesday, but here is the full text of Javier Perez’s speech to the board on November 7, 2011, which I wrote about in “There is no typical CTA rider“. But it’s not really too late because the union workers and the management haven’t agreed to the concessions the CTA budget depends on.


Javier Perez, trustee of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 241, speaks while Gregory P. Longhini, Assistant Secretary of the Board, moderates.

Good evening to the public, our riders, the Board and membership of Locals 241 and 308. Good evening Chairman Peterson, Mr. Claypool and members of the public and community groups.

At the last hearing I addressed what I called Mr. Claypool’s myths attacking CTA employees and ATU [Amalgamated Transit Union] members. If CTA’s Budget is based on these fables there are big problems ahead for all of us. A house built on sand will not stand and a budget built on myths will not survive.

Most employers faced with an expanded customer base, increased revenue and being able to do so with more productive employees would be ecstatic. Most employers would reward or at least congratulate their employees for doing more with less. In fact the former head of the CTA did so.

International Vice President Marcellus Barnes* and I had a brief meeting with Mr. Claypool, we both left with hope that there was a change we could believe in.

Unfortunately, shortly thereafter, we heard the mthys and saw the tired old tactics that have failed the public. Tactics that Governors Walker [Wisconsin] and Kasich [Ohio] have obtained a lot of press for but with no results.

Tactics that seek to scapegoat CTA employees, some who fall into the group called the greatest generation, and also blaming other employees who served their country in Vietnam, and some who have served or with sons and daughters currently serving in the Middle East. As the John Fogerty song says “we are not the fortunate one”. We are the 99%. All our members who served and others are the employees who have made the CTA more productive.

Some may find it in vogue to scapegoat public employees be they bus operators, maintenance, general office personnel, teachers, firefighters or police. Some may find it in vogue to scapegoat and decry public investment. Let all remember, the moon landing, the federal highway system, the Internet are but a few examples of how public employees and public investment has helped our country grow and create jobs while doing so.

The Chicago Transit Authority, a musical group now known as Chicago once asked, “Does anyone really know what time it is?”
Isn’t time to leave the scape goating behind?
Isn’t it time to work in partnership with all CTA employees and the Chicago community?
Isn’t time to roll up our sleeves and work together to help our nation reduce our dependence on foreign oil?

We the members of Lcoal 241 in concert with Local 308 and other CTA employees are the artery that carries the life blood of Chicago.

Together we can be innovative and creative in providing a service built on a sound budget. We invite you to belly up to the table. Whatever your choice Local 241 and our sister Local in concert with the public know that together we can and together we will.

*Barnes is also a trustee of Local 241. 

Kidical Mass video


Photo of a family participating in Kidical Mass by Sherry Keating. 

If you’re a Chicago parent and you want to cycle with your children, I invite you to check out Kidical Mass, “Critical Mass for the smaller set”. It’s a monthly, slow bike ride starting at Palmer Square Park (3064 W Palmer Blvd) for families. The next ride is December 10, 2011, at 10:30 AM.

Marisa Paulson published an introductory video at The Northwest Passage, embedded below. The video features short interviews with three Logan Square parents talking about why they ride in Kidical Mass.


Watch the video on Vimeo. Elizabeth Bartom posted more photos.

Win two books by liking us on Facebook


Photo of cycling on the Lakefront Trail by Mike Travis. 

We’re trying to grow the number of people who “like” Grid Chicago on Facebook, a good place to publish our stories and engage readers. It’s an additional outlet for posting photos and timely information like events and construction updates. So we’re holding a contest where you can win two books:

It’s so easy to win: Just go to our Facebook page and click “Like” before November 26th (if you’re already a fan, then stay one). We’ll randomly pick a fan on November 26th.

CTA 5000-series train cars to begin service on the Pink Line

Mayor Emanuel and Chicago Transit Authority president Forrest Claypool announced Tuesday, November 8, 2011, at the Midway Orange Line station the beginning of revenue service for the 5000-series train cars – they debuted on the Pink Line Wednesday. They’ll show up later on Green Line, with the Red Line after that.

Here’re CTA’s photos from the event:


CTA President Forrest Claypool speaks at the unveiling of new railcars, joined by RTA Chairman John Gates Jr. (back); Vice President, La Pocatiere-Plattsburgh Business Unit, Bombardier Transportation, North America Marc Boucher and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (far right) next to railcar 5055.


Train operator Joseph Anguiano points out some of the new features of the 5000-series train car.


View of new flooring and two wheelchair positions (bike positions?) on the new cars.

View the full photoset. Check out CTA Tattler and ChicagoBus.org for more information.