Community Gathers to Call for Safer Streets for Pedestrians

c. 2009 Jay MaddenOn Tuesday, from a South Side intersection where a young woman was killed recently by a hit-and-run driver, CNT joined voices with community leaders and lawmakers to call for safer roads for pedestrians.

“We are standing here today because of a failure to make our roads safe,” said Jacky Grimshaw, CNT’s Vice President for Policy.

The bereaved family of the young woman, Martha Gonzalez, stood alongside CNT, the Active Transportation Alliance, a representative from the 25th Ward and officers from the 10th police district in calls to pass and implement legislation that would stop pedestrian fatalities in Illinois.

In recent years, a rash of pedestrian fatalities has spread across Illinois and the country, according to a new report called “Dangerous By Design”, by Transportation for America, a national transportation advocacy group. Illinois alone suffered 312 pedestrian fatalities last year. Part of the solution to Illinois’ woes will come from a law passed back in 2007 that the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has stalled on implementing.

“It was called the Complete Streets bill, and it said, in no uncertain terms, that when towns, cities, counties or the State put the shovels away after major construction of a road, that road has to be safer for pedestrians,” Grimshaw said. “But the State isn’t taking to that responsibility. IDOT is dragging its feet on making our roads safer. It’s been two years since the law was passed and yet we still see IDOT laying pavement for dangerous roads.”

“When the State commits to building safe roads, it will lead counties, cities and towns by example,” Grimshaw said.

Those gathered also called for passage of Illinois House Bill 43, which would make it the responsibility of a driver to stop—not just yield—before approaching any pedestrian who has entered the roadway at a crosswalk.

Beyond legislation, CNT, Active Transportation Alliance, the 25th Ward and the Gonzalez family agreed that drivers need to take pedestrian safety more seriously.

“The responsibility to make our roads safe doesn’t just rest on the shoulders of our lawmakers,” Grimshaw said. “It’s the responsibility of everyone who sits down behind the wheel”.

Read press about this at the Chicago JournalStreetsblog, and NRDC’s Switchboard
View more photos from the conference here.

Photo courtesy: c. 2009 Jay Madden