Lincoln Square

Parents, Leaders Call for Action Amid Recent Deaths of Young Pedestrians in Chicago

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After a toddler was killed in Lincoln Square while riding a scooter, neighbors gathered to honor his memory, and to call for driver’s to change their behavior and for public officials to pass new legislation to help protect pedestrians.

Neighbors gathered for a block party to honor 2-year-old Rafi Cardenas on Wednesday night. Cardenas is one of at least three children that has been killed this month in incidents involving automobiles, and community members are looking to prevent tragedies from happening in the future.

“We chose this neighborhood because we thought it was one we could get around safely, and obviously recent events have called that into question,” Cardenas’ father Elliot Luke said.

On June 2, Cardenas was hit by a driver while riding a mini-scooter, one of several tragedies that have occurred in recent weeks.

On June 9 in Uptown, a 3-year-old girl was struck and killed while she was riding a bicycle with her mother. Finally, within the last week in Lawndale, a hit-and-run driver struck and killed an 11-year-old boy as he crossed a street.

Now, parents are calling on aldermen to take action, and for drivers to slow down.

“Even for myself, it’s more about slowing down and being more aware (while driving),” Crystal Avenetti said.

Matt Martin, alderman in the city’s 47th Ward, is calling on the City Council to pass a new ordinance encouraging safer streets and intersections.

“Different folks have different experiences, but at the end of the day we have those shared concerns around bike and pedestrian safety is not where we want it to be,” he said.

The gathering in Lincoln Square was not only a space to enjoy fellowship with neighbors, but also a place to grieve and to generate ideas in hopes of helping to create safer streets for everyone.

“Everywhere you go its someone’s neighborhood, and I think it’s easy to forget when you’re driving through but every block, there are kids there. There are families there,” Luke said.

The driver who struck Cardenas was not cited in the crash, but police say an investigation remains ongoing.

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