The Maya Hirsch settlement will help save the lives of other Chicago children


Maya Hirsch with her father, courtesy of the Stop for Maya foundation.

On Wednesday Chicago City Council approved a $3.25 million settlement with the family of Maya Hirsch, a four-year-old girl who was killed by a hit-and-run driver in Lincoln Park, possibly due to poorly placed signs and faded crosswalks. Under the Emanuel administration the city has ramped up its efforts to improve pedestrian safety, but the settlement highlights the need to continue these efforts, which will help prevent similar tragedies.

On the afternoon of May 20, 2006, after visiting the Lincoln Park Zoo, Maya and her mother and older brother were crossing the intersection of Belden Avenue and Lincoln Park West to catch a cab when Michael Roth, 57, driving northbound, ran the stop sign. Roth, who had worked as a driving instructor in the early 1980s, but had his driver’s license revoked for several years after two DUI convictions, had a valid license at the time of the crash.

Continue reading The Maya Hirsch settlement will help save the lives of other Chicago children

Walking Madison Street


[This piece also appeared in “Checkerboard City,” John’s weekly transportation column which appears in print in Newcity magazine, hitting the streets on Wednesday nights.]

Chicago’s Madison Street, named for the chief author of the U.S. Constitution, runs through the most expensive real estate in town as well as some of the most underserved neighborhoods. As the city’s north-south bifurcating street, it forms the Mason-Dixon Line between the North Side and the South Side. Over the years I’ve hiked the entire lengths of several Chicago thoroughfares in search of fascinating sights and interesting people, so it was only a matter of time until I walked Madison, a relatively short street at eight miles, but dense with landmarks.

Continue reading Walking Madison Street

Comment of the day: There is no war on cars


People just want to travel safely. Does that mean there’s a war?

This isn’t gonna be a feature, but as I was reading through and responding to reader comments on my article Breaking down the battle John McCarron wants to start, I was pleased to find a protest to the usage of “war” as a way to describe the evolution of Chicago’s transportation system.

I really find the violent “war” terminology appalling. If there is a war between cars and people biking/walking, only one side is fighting and inflicting casualties — with aggressive, reckless and distracted driving. The rest of us are just trying to get to work in one piece.

It’s from the people at Carfree Chicago.

Grid Shots: Pedestrian access edition


The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) began construction Thursday, November 10, 2011, to restore a lighted signal and crosswalk at 500 S Lake Shore Drive. 

I went on a four-hour bike ride today to gather photos of interesting things, including people walking and cycling in the 65°F warm and windy weather. I came across several places where pedestrian access had become an issue. These issues were manufactured by construction projects, clashing with the City of Chicago’s Complete Streets policy. Continue reading Grid Shots: Pedestrian access edition

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

Grid Shots: Shopping without a car

A large portion of Chicagoans not only take the bus, train, walk, or bike to work, but they also take these sustainable transportation modes to go shopping, for groceries and everything else.


Two people attempt to cross Western Avenue, with one of them pushing his purchases in a shopping cart. Photo by Joshua Koonce. Continue reading Grid Shots: Shopping without a car