Kinzie Street crash story: Report them all


Last Tuesday a friend of mine called me around 6 PM to describe that he had just witnessed a cyclist get involved in a collision with an automobile at Canal Street and Kinzie Street. From my friend’s point of view (which was a couple hundred feet west of the intersection), the cyclist was turning left from westbound Kinzie Street (after exiting the bridge) onto southbound Canal Street. The driver was traveling east on Kinzie Street.

My friend approached the scene and asked the driver to pull over and exchange information with the cyclist. The driver moved her car to Canal Street. My friend then met with the fallen cyclist and talked him through all of the steps of things to do after a crash:

  1. Call police and file a crash report
  2. Keep calm (this is probably the hardest part and I have no doubt that my friend’s presence here served to reassure the cyclist that they were not alone in this crash). This includes not talking about who might be at fault.
  3. Get witness information
  4. Preserve evidence; get information from the other parties; take pictures (my friend photographed the driver involved)
  5. Take care of yourself, get medical attention (this cyclist didn’t want it when asked by the 911 operator)

Continue reading Kinzie Street crash story: Report them all

How often is alcohol a part of crashes in Chicago?


This photo of a car elevated in a brick wall North Avenue and Kedzie Avenue by Katherine Hodges is not related to the story below. 

comment was left on EveryBlock, in response to a crash at Lincoln and Fullerton, “What a shock, alcohol was involved” (here’s a newspaper’s report). I presume that many other people think alcohol is typically a cause or factor in automobile crashes. I looked at the data to know if it’s true.


From 2007 to 2010, there were 394,651 reported crashes. Of those, responding police officers marked on the crash reports (SR-1050) that being under the influence of alcohol or drugs was a primary or second cause in only 3,647 crashes, or 0.924%. However, this does not tell the full story. That “cause code” (#8) is to be used when an arrest is made. When an arrest is not made, officers are to use “had been drinking” (#19), from which the data shows 1,030 crashes. Adding them together, you have 4,677 crashes. In other words, alcohol is a contributing primary or secondary cause in 1.185% of crashes. Continue reading How often is alcohol a part of crashes in Chicago?

Grid Bits: UP-North construction to restart, taxi drivers and street safety, new CTA Loop station

John and I are still gathering information for our Open Streets article, which will be co-written and published Tuesday. Also on Tuesday is another public meeting about the Bloomingdale Trail, where the designers and consultants will showcase the results of this past weekend’s open house and charrettes (I went on Saturday). I will publish an article about the Tuesday presentation on Thursday, October 6. There are five stories in this edition of Grid Bits.


(1) Taxi drivers


Click on the photo to read the photographer’s caption. I found this by searching on Flickr for “stupid taxi chicago” in order to find people’s opinions. Photo by Nick Normal. 

The Chicago Tribune reported on September 23, 2011, that many of the tickets Chicago police give to taxi drivers are dismissed in court. When a taxi driver receives commits three moving violations in one year, they risk having their chauffeur’s license not renewed. Continue reading Grid Bits: UP-North construction to restart, taxi drivers and street safety, new CTA Loop station

They’re not accidents, and we don’t have robotic cars

Updated October 5, 2011, to add a reference to a new article that fails to mention that the car involved in a crash had a driver. 


The headline for this crash might read: “Taxi wanted to avoid Lake Shore Drive congestion by taking the Lakefront Trail, makes wrong turn”. Photo by Andrew Ciscel. 

Language and word choice is powerful. It influences you to interpret a story in a specific way – or another. Monday’s headline on the Chicago Sun-Times website reads, “Police seek vehicle in fatal Uptown hit-and-run” and I thought, “Aren’t the police also interested in the driver of that vehicle?”*

And I read the first paragraph:

Police have released surveillance photos of a car that plowed into a woman crossing the street in Uptown early Saturday, then reportedly backed up and struck her again before fleeing the scene. The pedestrian died eight hours later.

“Oh, the police are looking for a car that drives itself. Of course!” I exclaimed to myself. “I guess one of Google’s experimental cars has come to Chicago”. But I was wrong as in the fifth paragraph, the unnamed author of this article described the crash: Continue reading They’re not accidents, and we don’t have robotic cars

Grid Bits: Englewood railroad yard; Metra asks passengers to watch conductors

In Grid Bits for Tuesday, September 20, 2011, Metra wants customers to report on customers and conductors who miss fares; Evanston wants to build an infill Yellow Line station; additional automobile crash analysis; Chicago police are looking for a hit-and-run driver; a railroad plans to expand by buying and demolishing homes in Englewood. There are 6 stories in this post.


Photo of a 5000-series Chicago Transit Authority train car at Howard station by Eric Pancer.  Continue reading Grid Bits: Englewood railroad yard; Metra asks passengers to watch conductors

A very initial look at 2010 bike crash data for Chicago


The intersection of Grand/Milwaukee/Halsted has the third highest incidence of collisions between automobiles and bicycles at Milwaukee Avenue intersections. Will bicycle crash data help city planners focus their attention on improving safety at the spots with the most frequent crashes? 

I recently obtained from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) the 2010 vehicle crash data, which includes collisions between automobile drivers, bicyclists, pedestrians. I plan to update the Crash Portal with this information. But I also plan to do something more than make a map; Derek Eder*, myself, and others will dig deeper into the data to see what story we can tell with it. We’ll do that in addition to listing and visualizing statistics that citizen cyclists are more accustomed to, like the change in crash rates year after year. Continue reading A very initial look at 2010 bike crash data for Chicago