by Michelle Stenzel
It’s been Illinois law now for nearly two years that drivers of motorized vehicles must stop for pedestrians crossing the street in a marked crosswalk, even on crosswalks where there is no stop sign or stop light. That type of crosswalk is called an “uncontrolled crosswalk”, an apt name that reflects the often-chaotic feel fro the perspective of a person on foot trying to cross it! So under the law, when a person is on a crosswalk trying to cross the street, a driver must stop completely to allow them to cross, as if there were a red stoplight signal that had suddenly appeared.
|Portable pedestrian crosswalk signs on Wells Street near|
Walter Payton College Prep high school.
(Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
Of course, we know this rarely happens.
Perhaps it’s because drivers are unaware of the law. Perhaps they need a visual reminder of the law. Perhaps there needs to be a physical object present that registers in their mind and makes them suddenly recognize that there’s a crosswalk and other street users present who have the right of way.
There’s now a tool available that covers all three of those factors: The in-street stop for pedestrian signs. These are three-feet-high signs that are permanently mounted in the middle of the street at a crosswalk and that clearly proclaim “State law/Stop for (pedestrian symbol) within crosswalk”.
You may have seen the non-permanent version on Wells Street south of Division, which we featured in this prior post. We have learned in an interview with a staff member of the community center nearby that they purchased the signs after a woman picking up her grandchild from their daycare was hit and injured by a car driver. The staff rolls the signs out each morning and takes them in at night.
The permanent in-street pedestrian signs are one of the items available to aldermen citywide to be purchased using their annual menu funds. We have requested Alderman Michele Smith use a portion of her menu funds to install them in our ward, and she has expressed support for the initiative. Her staff is currently working to analyze the best spots to place these new pedestrian safety tools.