Chicago City Council To Vote On Floating Car Share Use

The Chicago Tribune reported this week that the company Car2Go is looking to operate in Chicago. The city council will vote this week as to whether they can operate here in Chicago. Car2Go, a car share company, allows members to pick up a car parked somewhere within a designated zone, use it for anything, and then park it somewhere else in the zone. The company is looking to operate, for now, on the North side, the loop and near South side. Certain areas of Lincoln Park and Lakeview are not included in the zone at this point.

Car2Go is different from other car share companies like Zipcar because they do not require you to return the car to the exact same spot it was picked up from. Based on this model, it looks like Car2Go allows  more flexibility than other car share companies as it allows you to basically take one way trips. For example, if you want to go out for the night in a certain neighborhood, and are not sure how long you will be gone, you can park the car in your destination area and not have to worry about taking it home at the end of the night where you started. It appears to be a micro version of Zipcar.  It will be interesting to see whether Zipcar adapts and provides more flexibility for their drivers and their ability to drop vehicles off at different locations. Car2Go is currently operating in eleven (11) U.S. cities along with cities throughout Europe and China.

Like Zipcar, Car2Go pays for insurance, gas and parking, while consumers pay for the time the car is used. Costs vary depending on the type of vehicle and the city — for a two-seater blue-and-white Smart Car, consumers typically pay about 41 cents a minute, $15 per hour and $60 per day.

There has been some opposition to this new ordinance, including from Ald. Michelle Smith, 43rd Ward, who represents Lincoln Park and opposes the ordinance, questioned whether the company will be paying the city enough for its privileges. (Under the ordinance, Car2Go  will pay a $75 per vehicle fee for parking in areas controlled by residential permits, as well as property lease and rental car taxes).

The question that has to be asked is whether a company like Car2Go actually reduces the number of cars on the streets where they operate. A study cited in the Tribune article stated that found that between 2 percent to 5 percent of Car2Go users sold a vehicle because of Car2Go, while another 7 percent to 10 percent held off on buying a car and that a Car2Go vehicle removes 7 to 11 vehicles from the road, and reduced total miles driven and emissions.

We won’t immediately know the effect this company will have on Chicago. First, the city ordinance will need to pass and then it will take at least a year to study how often the vehicles are being used and whether we see less vehicles on the road. Call me dubious, but I just don’t anticipate a huge decrease in traffic in such densely populated areas. People will still need to move around the city, whether it’s through a car share company, their own vehicle or from an Uber or Cab.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Chicago traffic accident or Chicago pedestrian accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Chicago Continues To Install New Curb Protected Bike Lanes

The Chicago Tribune reported recently that the city of Chicago unveiled another new curb protected bicycle lanes. The lanes have a raised concrete median that protects bicyclists from motorists in the adjacent lane. The newest bike lane was constructed at 31st Street from LaSalle to Michigan Avenue. Previous curb protected bike lanes were installed last May on Sacramento Drive in Douglas Park, followed by one in November on Clybourn Avenue in Old Town There are plans in the works another similar lane in the downtown loop on Randolph from Michigan Avenue heading to Clinton Street in the West Loop.

“Curb-protected bike lanes provide better separation between people riding their bikes and people driving, provide better guidance for motorists as to where to park and or drive, prevent illegal parking in or near bike lanes, and are more aesthetically pleasing,” said Mike Claffey, spokesman for the Chicago Department of Transportation.

Chicago’s Mayor and the City Council catch a lot of flak for their handling of different issues like traffic cameras and the ride-sharing companies like Uber.  Regardless, I have to take my hat off to city officials for following through on their promise to make Chicago a world class bicycling city and to improve safety. These curb protected bicycle lanes are another step in that direction. Especially with amount of traffic congestion we see. It can obviously be dangerous at time for bicyclists to struggle for room on the roads. These curb protected lanes make life safer for everyone on the road.

If you or someone you love has been seriously been injured in a Chicago bicycle accident or Chicago traffic accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation.

Chicago Again Ranked In Top 10 In U.S. Traffic Congestion

I’ve written about traffic congestion in Chicago in the past and our city is perennially in the top 10 of most congested U.S. cities. This year’s ranking is no different as analytic company INRIX ranked Chicago the eighth most congested U.S. city. The study states that Chicago commuters waste about 60 hours a year sitting in traffic. On the bright side, Chicago has been ranked as high as third in recent years, so this is somewhat of an improvement. Los Angeles was ranked first in the U.S. and London was ranked at the top worldwide.

I mentioned a few weeks ago about increased traffic fatalities (specifically pedestrian) in 2015. Experts concluded that one of the causes could be attributed in the improved economy and lower gas prices. There are more people on the road driving to more jobs, which leads to more auto accidents. It is kind of a catch 22 for Chicagoans. We want a booming economy with low unemployment, but as a result we face more traffic congestion and potentially more traffic accidents and traffic fatalities. As I have said many times before, with this much traffic on the road, put your phones down and focus on what is in front of you while driving.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Pedestrian Deaths By Auto Up In 2015

Various news outlets, including the Chicago Tribune, reported this week that pedestrian deaths from motor vehicles were up in 2015. There were 2,368 pedestrians killed in the first six months of 2015, compared to 2,232 during the same period in 2014 — a 6 percent increase. Researchers arrived at a 10 percent increase for the entire year by factoring in that fatalities for the first half of the year are typically underreported, and that for at least the last five years an average of 25 percent more pedestrian deaths were recorded in the second half of the year, which includes warmer summer months.Total traffic deaths, which had been trending downward for the past decade, were also up an estimated 8 percent last year. But pedestrian fatalities have been rising since 2005, and now account for 15 percent of total traffic deaths.

What is the cause of this recent uptick in traffic fatalities? According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, the proliferation of cell phone use by drivers has caused people to be more distracted. Also, the improved economy reveals that more drivers are on the road than in recent years.

I unfortunately do not have numbers for Illinois or Chicago, but I would imagine they follow the national trend. This is a disturbing trend especially since Mayor Rahm Emanuel has focused on improving safety for pedestrians and drivers with red light and speeder cameras. As I stated yesterday in my blog and several times before, these cameras do not show a net safety improvement, and in my opinion, these programs should end. Regardless, the city and state will have to take a long look at improving safety for pedestrians. One way, which I have mentioned before, is to increase the penalty for cell phone use while driving. Especially if someone is injured in a car accident while someone is using their phone.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

 

 

Fleet Feet Posts The 12 Most Dangerous Intersections In Chicago For Runners

Fleet Feet, a popular Chicago store for runners to find shoes and other athletic gear, ran a fantastic poll regarding the most dangerous intersections in the city for runners. You can see the complete list by clicking here.

They compiled their results from a previous poll and also asked their social media followers to respond. Here is the list of the 12 most dangerous intersections:

  1. Roosevelt & Union
  2. Diversey & Lakeshore
  3. Kedzie & Logan
  4. Alleyways (all of them)
  5. Elston & Irving Park
  6. Halsted & Fullerton
  7. Fullerton & Damon
  8. Ashland & Cortland
  9. Ardmore & Sheridan
  10. LaSalle & Clark
  11. Sangamon & Jackson
  12. North & Milwaukee

I’m familiar with most of these intersections and have jogged and/or walked through some of them dozens, if not, hundreds of times, and yes they can be dangerous. I believe the LaSalle/Clark Intersection is dangerous for multiple reasons. For one, when heading south on Clark, the far right lane veers off onto LaSalle. For walkers and joggers, there is supposed the be a pedestrian walkway that allows you to cross the street and stay on Clark rather than veer right onto LaSalle. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen vehicles not pay attention and almost hit a pedestrian. The problem is that the white lines outlining the walkway have completely faded. I believe the city needs to re-paint and make more visible for everyone.

If you are a jogger or enjoy walking, make sure you always keep an eye out for your surroundings, especially if you frequent any of the above intersections. It would be nice if the city would look at each of these intersections and consider better cross-walk precautions such as pedestrian stop signs. I am hoping the Fleet Feet forwarded their results to the cities’ department of transportation.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago pedestrian accident or Chicago bicycle accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

It’s Time To Remove Red Light Cameras From Chicago’s Intersections

I have written multiple posts regarding Chicago’s much maligned red light and speeder cameras over the last several years. The issues have concerned the actual validity (do they make our streets safer?) to the overt corruption that took place. The piper is now asking to be paid for the corruption as former Chicago Department of Transportation Office, John Bills, was found guilty in federal court on all 20 counts of public corruption, including bribery and mail fraud. Bill was convicted for accepting cash, luxury hotel accommodations, trips and sporting event tickets from Red Flex, the original company the city hired to handle their red light cameras. Prosecutors estimate Bills received up to $2 million in cash and other perks. Bills awaits sentencing on May 5.

To me this is all kind of a joke, including the cameras them selves. Studies have shown, including one performed by Texas A&M University, that Chicago’s red light cameras provide no net safety benefit for drivers and pedestrians. Yes, t-bone accidents have decreased slightly but rear-accidents have actually increased. The only possible benefit to the city (if you believe the studies) is that it is a cash grab. At the same time the cameras’ purpose are being questioned, all of the above corruption comes to light. Red Flex buys their way into city hall, while city official fatten their pockets. How can we possibly take this program seriously. They do not make our intersections safer and the whole history behind the program is corrupt. It is time to remove red light and speeder cameras from Chicago’s intersections.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Loop Link Bus Lines Launch In Downtown Chicago

The Chicago Tribune (among other outlets) reported last month that the Chicago Transit Authority (“CTA”) finally launched the long awaited loop link bus lines. Loop link are bus only dedicated lanes that run through Madison, Washington, Clinton and Canal Streets. The bus only lanes were designed and constructed to increase the speed of bus traffic in the loop, while also making streets safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.

I have seen the construction of these lanes from start to finish, and it has been a huge relief for those that work or live in the loop that the construction is finally completed. One of the touches that the construction includes is a dedicated bicycle lane located adjacent to the bus lanes closest to the curb. Although it doesn’t appear so in the first month of use, the purpose of the loop link is to decrease congestion for everyone: drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians. Also, it’s important to point out that the bus lanes are separated from the normal lanes with raised concrete curbs, which prevent normal vehicles from driving through and using those lanes. You can click here to view a photo of one of the completed bus stop stations from the Chicago Street Blog.

To me this is a huge improvement for the CTA and downtown Chicago. For one, the lanes and stops are aesthetically pleasing. Now, the real question is whether they will help with traffic congestion downtown. It will take more than a month to know exactly understand the effectiveness of loop link and whether car accidents and bicycle accidents will decrease. Regardless, it is a step in the right direction.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago bicycle accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Proposed Chicago Ordinance Would Allow Cameras To Ticket Drivers Blocking Intersections

According to the great website DNA Info Chicago, there is a proposed ordinance within the Chicago city council that would allow traffic cameras to ticket drivers blocking certain downtown intersections. Alderman Brendan Reilly proposed using automated cameras to enforce tickets on cars stuck in the middle of intersections when the lights change, thus blocking cross traffic. He specifically mentioned the corner of Randolph and LaSalle streets directly outside City Hall

Full disclosure, I don’t think this ordinance is being proposed for safety purposes. I think it is a traffic congestion ordinance that would hopefully force vehicles to avoid intersections when the light change. I actually walk past this intersection almost daily when I go to Court at the Daley Center, and the Alderman is correct: this intersection, along with Washington and LaSalle, is incredibly frustrating. It’s frustrating for both drivers and pedestrians when vehicles are constantly sitting in the middle of an intersection, making traffic more congested for everyone. Would this type of new traffic ticket make our streets safer and decrease the number of traffic accidents and pedestrian accidents? Probably not. Would it actually decrease the number of drivers that block intersections? Possibly. Especially if the fine is high enough. There has been no reporting on what the fine would be or whether this is close to passing. Another thought is that all of this congestion may just disappear when all of the construction for the separate CTA bus lanes are finally completed. I will be interested in seeing if this ordinance goes anywhere.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago pedestrian accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076

All State Study Reveals Chicago Drivers Are The Least Safe In Illinois

According to All State Insurance Company’s 2015 “Best Driver” report, Chicago was the most unsafe drivers in the state of Illinois. Out of the 200 U.S. cities ranked, Chicago ranked 134th, with drivers having a likelihood of being in a car accident 24.4 percent more than the national average, and having an accident once every eight years. Chicago was up one spot from last year at 139.

The other Illinois towns that were ranked in the report include: Rockford ranked No. 46, with drivers having a traffic accident every 9.9 years; Aurora ranked No. 65, with drivers having a car accident every 9.2 years; and Naperville ranked 100th on the list, with drivers having an auto accident every 8.7 years.

I think looking at this report at first blush, one could easily view Chicago drivers as being much more unsafe that other drivers around the state. But, I think we need to consider the fact that there are tens of thousands of more drivers in Chicago than anywhere else in the state. And – -as I have written numerous times in the past – – Chicago is one of the most congested cities in the country. The odds of being involved in an auto accident increase exponentially while driving in Chicago merely because there are so many of other motorists on the road. I do not have any scientific evidence to back this up but I think it should be a factor rather than automatically assuming that Chicago drivers are much more careless than other places around the country.

If you or someone you love has been involved in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

 

Chicago’s Traffic Congestion Is Still Terrible

Both the Chicago Tribune and Crain’s reported last week that there are five (5) stretches of roads in the Chicago area that are ranked within the top twenty (2) most congested in the United States.

The results are based on a study conducted by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute called the Urban Mobility Scorecard. No. 4 nationally was I-90/94 westbound from 35th Street to the Edens junction. The eastbound stretch from Montrose Avenue to Ruble Street, just south of Roosevelt Road, ranked No. 7 nationally. No. 14 nationally was the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) eastbound starting at the Tri-State Tollway (I-294) and extending to the Kennedy at the Edens (I-94) merge. The study concluded that the Chicago area ranked No. 8 overall for the nation’s worse traffic.

As I have discussed recently on this blog, a portion of the traffic problem (and the increase in Illinois traffic accidents) is that the economy has rebounded and there are more drivers on the road. “The national congestion recession is over,” the report concluded. “The total congestion problem is larger than the pre-recession levels.”

What does this mean for Chicago drivers and their commute times? A driver in the Chicago region who really needs to arrive on time at a destination that is 20 minutes away in light traffic should instead budget a full hour to get there during peak travel times , said Bill Eisele, a senior research engineer at the transportation institute and the report’s co-author.

What is the solution to this gridlock? The authors of this study believe that lawmakers must act aggressively to address the traffic issues before the problems get worse. Experts say possible enhancements include expanding roadway capacity, providing incentives for people to alter their travel times away from the 6 to 10 a.m. and 3 to 7 p.m. peak hours, and expanding public transit and attracting new riders with new services that include new rail lines and bus rapid transit, airport express trains and options directed at luring reverse commuters from their cars to trains and buses.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.