Illinois traffic fatalities are up this year: What to do about it?


Can you find anything “bad” or “could use improvement” about the design of this intersection between Ogden Avenue and an on-ramp to northbound Kennedy Expressway? There are clues in Notes below. 

Two weeks ago, a commenter asked about the LED signs on Illinois highways. This article from the Chicago Tribune tells what they’re showing:

When travel times and Amber alerts aren’t being shown on electronic message boards, a running tally of traffic deaths in Illinois is often displayed along highways across the state to remind motorists about the consequences of dangerous driving.

What are the other factors at play in this increase? Does dangerous design have a role? Or economic factors?

On Saturday, August 11, I went with a friend on the CTA Blue Line to Forest Park with our bikes; we got on the Illinois Prairie Path just a few hundred feet away from the train terminal, inside a cemetery. The bike ride was a reminder to me of the persistent road and trail design inconsistencies, within cities, within states, and across the country. I went on a road trip to Richmond, Virginia, during which I drove on the highways and local roads of 5 states. It seemed to me that the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), a federal document that every road, path, and bike lane builder in the country must follow (or obtain exemptions from), was lost or deleted. Continue reading Illinois traffic fatalities are up this year: What to do about it?

How do you get insurance information from a car that presumably drove itself?


An actual robotic car. Cars driven by robotic software may actually be safer for our roads than cars driven by people because they never stop paying attention. Photo by j-fi. 

You may have read about 10 days ago that actor Gene Hackman was involved in a collision with an automobile while cycling in Florida. And if you read about this on CNN’s website, you may be under the impression that he was hit by a robot car. Twice in the article there is a mention of a car hitting Hackman and but a driver of that automobile is mentioned 0 times. The robot car strikes again!

I want news media to write stronger, more accurate descriptions of the situation. I want articles about robot cars to only be about cars that are driven without a human operator (an article by Tom  Vanderbilt, also the author of Traffic). When you discover it, tell the author and their editor that you want better information. I am republishing, in full, Travis Wittwer’s essay titled “#robotcar”: Continue reading How do you get insurance information from a car that presumably drove itself?

Book club update #1: More crashes close to home


This is the first “book club” update. Read the introduction

I only read up to page 102 in Tom Vanderbilt’s “Traffic: Why we drive the way we do (and what it says about us)” before I had to return it to the Chicago Public Library. And since it was overdue I didn’t have the chance to renew it. I liked the book so much and I was underlining and making notes in a public book so I decided to buy it.

My used book arrived from Amazon and I wanted to tell you about one of the (hundreds of) interesting facts and findings: Continue reading Book club update #1: More crashes close to home