LEADERS DEMAND SAFER STREETS IN CHICAGOLAND FOLLOWING NATIONAL REPORT ON PEDESTRIAN SAFETY

Advocates, elected officials and residents gathered today to demand safer streets and legislation that protects pedestrians in Chicagoland.

Representatives from the Active Transportation Alliance, the Center for Neighborhood Technology, the 25th Ward, the 10th Police District and Rep. Luis Arroyo came together at 18th and Halsted streets in Chicago—the site of one of three recent pedestrian fatalities—to call on our leaders to act now.

“This is a time for our leaders to commit to prioritizing people and ensuring their safety when they choose to walk and bike,” said Rob Sadowsky, executive director at the Active Transportation Alliance. “It is not acceptable that we fear for our lives when we walk or bike in our neighborhoods.”

The event comes a day after Transportation for America, a national campaign for balanced transportation options, released Dangerous by Design, which outlines pedestrian crash rates in major metropolitan areas, the causes of those crashes and how they can be prevented.

Chicagoland, according the report, ranks 41st on a list of the 50 most dangerous metropolitan areas. Within Illinois, it ranks eighth among Illinois’ major metropolitan areas, with a pedestrian danger index of 39.3 and 235 pedestrian fatalities from 2007-2008.

The report found that last year alone, 312 pedestrians were killed in Illinois. That translates into other striking realities: On average, about 11.8 percent of all fatal crashes involved pedestrians in the United States. Illinois’ percentage is 13.6 percent. The report also details pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 people. The U.S. average is 1.53 and the Illinois’ is 1.21.

The Illinois Department of Transportation reports that 6,000 pedestrians are hit every year in Illinois. In Chicago, that translates to one death per week.

At 18th and Halsted streets in Chicago, advocates called on leaders to improve road design, increase funding and support legislation like the Complete Streets bill and House Bill 43 that ensure safer roads and clarify drivers’ responsibilities.

“Passing the Complete Streets bill was a victory for everyone in Illinois. But it was only one landmark on a long path. The challenge now is getting the Illinois Department of Transportation to follow that law and make every street in the state safe for walkers, bikers and drivers alike. In doing so, IDOT can provide the leadership for county and municipalities to implement Complete Streets as well,” said Jacky Grimshaw, vice president for policy and the Center for Neighborhood Technology.

House Bill 43, which would clarify state law and require drivers to stop—instead of yield—would remarkably improve pedestrian safety.

“We have the data and we have the tools,” Sadowsky said. “Now is the time to make pedestrian safety a priority on our streets.”

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