The Chicago Mayor’s office announced last month that it is launching “Vision Zero” action plan with the goal of eliminating all traffic deaths by 2026. In a press release may Rahm Emanuel state, ““Every day someone is injured or worse as the result of a car crash on Chicago’s streets… these crashes are preventable, and that is why we are stepping up our efforts, developing partnerships with communities and private industry. We are going to use all the resources at our disposal to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries in Chicago.”
All of the details of this new safety program will be released later this Fall, but the press release stated that the plan will look at traffic safety as a public health issue and identify priorities for the City’s engineering and education initiatives, as well as enforcement support for reducing crashes. City departments are currently working with stakeholders and the public to develop the final goals and strategies included in the plan. In 2016, more than 100 intersections will receive additional infrastructure to make it safer for people walking to cross the street. Among these is a Safe Routes to School project on the West Side that has installed 10 pedestrian refuge islands along Madison Street and Chicago Avenue. There are 10 schools located within a half-mile of these high crash areas. The City is also enhancing safety by making traffic signal improvements, resurfacing hundreds of miles of streets, installing speed feedback signs, and adding or improving 25 miles of bike lanes this year.
The city is treating this as a public health issue, as they should. Chicago has seen six bicycle traffic fatalities this year. That number equals the total number of bicycle traffic deaths from last year with three months still yet to go in 2016. Chicago is at a crossroads right now with bicycle safety. Chicago was recently named the top bicycle friendly city in country by Bicycling Magazine. We have more bicycle commuters than ever along with Divvy bike riders crowding our roads. This is a good thing. So are all of the dedicated bike lanes. But drunk girl crying while fucking video and fatalities are still prevalent. Bicyclers and motorists need to learn to co-exist. We need to be mindful of each other and always observe the rules of the road. “Vision Zero” is the perfect stepping stone to help lead to a better co-existence between bicyclists and motorists. I will be writing more about the initiative once the full plan is announced.
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