Pedestrian Safety in Illinois
New Laws Promote Pedestrian Safety
The Chicago Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) Pedestrian Safety Initiative is guided by the Mayor’s Pedestrian Advisory Council (MPAC), formed in 2006 as an interdisciplinary committee devoted to improving pedestrian safety and comfort in Chicago. Peter Skosey of the Metropolitan Planning Council was recently appointed chair of MPAC along with CDOT’s Commissioner Gabe Klein.
Safe Routes for Seniors
New developments are underway for Safe Routes for Seniors! Between May and September, the Safe Routes for Seniors program presented to over 2,351 Chicago residents at over 78 events across the city, up from 20 events in the previous year. Safe Routes for Seniors not only educates seniors on walking safety, but the program also encourages seniors to maintain an active lifestyle. Additionally, the Safe Routes for Seniors program is working to design a “train-the-trainer” model to help distribute this message more effectively and engage community leaders in senior pedestrian safety issues. While seniors represent a small portion of the overall pedestrian crashes within Chicago, they often suffer more serious injuries when involved in a crash and often have fewer mobility options than other age groups. For these reasons, the Safe Routes for Seniors program reaches out to Chicago’s senior communities through targeted workshops designed to increase awareness of pedestrian safety.
Chicago’s Safe Routes Ambassadors
Chicago’s Safe Routes Ambassadors have been busy! In 2010-2011, the Safe Routes Ambassadors visited 104 schools, leading presentations for nearly 10,000 students. Following the presentations, the Ambassadors offer an on-foot workshop to solidify the skills taught in the classroom and in 2010-2011, 65 percent of schools participated in the follow-up workshop, an increase from 10 percent in previous years. The Ambassador program reaches students in all corners of Chicago. In 2010-2011, the Safe Routes Ambassadors visited schools in 24 out of 25 police districts and in 43 out of 50 wards.
After celebrating Crossing Guard Appreciation Day in May 2011, the Ambassadors spent the summer gearing up for another school year starting in September 2011. This normal Ambassador program is augmented by two additional outreach assistants (funded through a separate funding source) who are going to be providing direct education for grades K-8 in 18 specifically selected schools. Additionally, the Ambassadors are pursuing a new initiative to better serve students with disabilities.
Finally, the Safe Routes Ambassadors are kicking off a teen safety campaign, aimed at youth aged 15-18, based on the prevalence of teen pedestrians involved in crashes between 2005 and 2009. This trend came out in the data analysis previously mentioned as part of the work done by MPAC and the Ambassadors are developing strategies to reach this population in response to this trend.
Crosswalk Enforcement Events
The Chicago Pedestrian Safety Initiative continues to coordinate with the Chicago Police Department to determine the best locations and conduct education and outreach around the crosswalk enforcement events executed by the police department. In 2011, 36 crosswalk enforcement missions were completed throughout the city in an effort to raise awareness of the law stating that cars must stop for pedestrians when they are in an unsignalized crosswalk. These enforcement events continue to receive positive feedback from community members and neighbors.
~By Chelsea Richer, Safe Routes to School Coordinator