Chicago Unveils Pedestrian Plan

CDOT wants to eliminate fatal traffic crashes in 10 years

chicago crosswalk 1
Stefan Holt

After seven public meetings, 500 ideas from Chicago residents and input from experts, the Chicago Department of Transportation on Thursday unveiled the city's first-ever pedestrian plan.

Meant to increase pedestrian safety and prevent crashes, the 114-page plan puts forth 250 recommendations and goals to improve crosswalks, create safer intersections and use traffic lights to give pedestrians lead time to cross.

"At some point in the day, everyone is a pedestrian; therefore, every Chicagoan has a voice in this plan," the plan reads.

CDOT commissioner Gabe Klein said ideas were received via the project's website, in the mail and in person and included everything from adding "refuge islands" in the middle of busy intersections to eliminating rush hour parking restrictions.

“Even one life lost is too many, and we must take action to promote pedestrian safety in multiple ways,” Klein said. “Education, engineering and enforcement are critical components to ensure that pedestrians and motorists understand their role and responsibility in public safety.”  

CDOT responded with ideas to eliminate fatal traffic crashes in 10 years. Installing marked crosswalks, improving pedestrian safety at stop lights and modifying driver education programs are on the list.

Even encouraging Chicago taxi drivers to be the safest in the country made the plan's master list of ideas.

"Taxis are involved in almost 30 percent of pedestrian crashes in the Central Business District," the plan reads. "They are also a key part of Chicago’s transportation system, filling gaps in the transit system."

CDOT admits it will be a "tremendous challenge" to implement the ideas. So the department recommends singling out high-priority spots to start with.

Back in May, Klein unveiled another 100-page plan called Chicago Forward that aims to make some of the city's most dangerous roadways safer.

If funding comes through, many of those changes would be completed in the next couple years, including installing countdown signals for pedestrians at 300 intersections in 2012.

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