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Chicago plans for pedestrian safety

Master plan for pedestrians

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The City of Chicago will be releasing its first ever Chicago Pedestrian Plan, “a master plan for pedestrians,” later this year to increase pedestrian safety, encourage walking, give neighborhoods tools to improve their pedestrian situation, and guide public investments, according to The Architect’s Newspaper:

Throughout the summer in Chicago, planners have canvassed residents for ideas big and small about what works—and what doesn’t—for walkers ambling their way through neighborhoods across the city.

The feedback, be it about a corner that floods over following every downpour or fundamental safety concerns walkers face in communities struggling with crime, will inform the Chicago Pedestrian Plan.

“What the pedestrian plan is going to do is develop a general framework, sort of a one-stop shop for everyone to look at how we treat pedestrians in the built environment, and how we continue to encourage more pedestrians,” said project consultant Mark de la Vergne, of Sam Schwartz Engineering, at a public meeting in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood on August 10.

The plan will establish specific goals on safety, pushing for an end to auto-pedestrian fatalities in 10 years, and reducing walker injuries by vehicles by 50 percent every five years. Thirty-four people were killed and 3,130 injured in pedestrian-related crashes in 2009. Both numbers are down from 2005, though the numbers do not trend consistently lower. More people were injured in walker-vehicle wrecks in ‘08 than ‘05, for example.

The document also is meant to serve as a tool for neighborhood organizations seeking ways to improve local streets and will help set priorities for spending public dollars.

Kiersten Grove, the Chicago Department of Transportation’s pedestrian safety coordinator, said the plan will fit into ongoing departmental efforts to add countdown timers at all city crosswalks, deploy more “leading pedestrian intervals,” where a walker gets permission to cross a street while turning vehicles stay behind a red light, and roll out road diets, which see full lanes of traffic removed from the roadway.

(Image Credit: ChiBart, flickr / cc)

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