Chicago Transportation Commissioner: Traffic Crashes Are A Public Health Crises

Chicago Transportation Commissioner, Rebekah Scheinfeld, spoke to a group at the  City Club of Chicago last week making the claim that the number of traffic fatalities in and around Chicago has created a major health crises. The purpose of her speech was to make the case  for “Vision Zero,” a three-year plan with the  goal of eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries that affect 2,000 people in Chicago each year.

The “Vision Zero” plan The plan will rely heavily on signs, surveillance cameras and “data-driven” enforcement to convince Chicago motorists to stop ignoring the city’s traffic laws.

Th neighborhoods that they plan on focusing on includes: the Loop, the Near North and Near West Sides, Austin, Belmont-Cragin, East and West Garfield Park, North Lawndale, Humboldt Park, West Town, West Englewood, Englewood, Washington Park and Grand Boulevard.

“The only goal we should be aiming to achieve is zero. Zero deaths and zero serious injuries. We all have the right to walk, bike, take transit and drive on streets that are safe for everyone, regardless of who we are or where we live,” Scheinfeld said Monday.

A portion of her talk focused on the recent changes in red light tickets. Scheinfeld said the city has also agreed to begin the process to move red-light cameras from six existing intersections and place them at five new locations where the study shows red-light cameras would have a greater impact on safety.

 This is a lofty goal set forth by the city but it is the right one to make. I think it’s almost impossible to think that all traffic fatalities will be eliminated just due to the number of motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists that pack city streets everyday. If “Vision Zero” merely makes huge cuts in the number of traffic fatalities, I think it will be a success.

If you or someone you love has been seriously 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.

Study Shows Ashland Ave Deadliest For Chicago Pedestrians

The Chicago Tribune reported last month that through an investigation of police statistics, that Ashland Avenue has been the most dangerous for pedestrians over the last four (4) years.

The statistics showed that from 2014 to 2016 the most traffic fatalities occurred on Lake Shore Drive (15), Ashland (14), Western Avenue with (14), Milwaukee Avenue (9), and Stony Island and North avenues (8). Those numbers include motorist, bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities.

The road with the most pedestrian fatalities over this period was Ashland with 10.  Why is Ashland such a major problem for traffic accidents? Once reason the article notes is that on the South side of the city motorists who want to avoid the expressway, choose to drive on Ashland, which makes it a much busier street than others.

The article also notes that being poor can also mean you’re more likely to die in a traffic crash. The city’s Transportation Department reported this month that people experiencing medium and high levels of economic hardship make up 82 percent of the city’s traffic deaths.

What can be done on busy streets like Ashland to protect pedestrians?

One is to install refuge “islands” in the middle of crossings so pedestrians can stop and wait midblock if the light changes, and traffic bump-outs. The latter means extending concrete into the intersection to reduce the space needed to cross and get cars to slow down, Such measures have been added during resurfacing in crash-prone areas.

 

Reducing the width of vehicle lanes on arterials helps slow traffic, Schady said. Another solution, especially in the suburbs, is reducing driveway access points. Countdown lights help pedestrians see how long they have to make it across. Traffic lights can also include a delay before the light turns green so pedestrians can clear the intersection before traffic moves again.

A way to calm traffic on Ashland in particular could be a rapid transit bus system between Irving Park Road and 95th Street. The idea, proposed by the CTA and the Transportation Department in 2013, faced opposition from residents and businesses and is stuck in the planning phase.

All of these ideas are part of the “Vision Zero” initiative that the city undertook in 2014, which was to eliminate all traffic deaths in the city.

Once thing for certain is that motorists need to constantly be aware of their surroundings when driving in the city. You have to be aware of course of other drivers, but also pedestrians, especially on busy avenues like Ashland.

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

Chicago Announces Launch Of “Vision Zero” Aimed To Eliminate Traffic Deaths

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 bicycle traffic accidents 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.

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