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.
|Map of suggestion locations for crosswalk signs, courtesy of John Krause.|
Below is the content of our letter to Alderman Smith. Are there any suggested locations that you think are in particularly dire need of these signs? Did we miss any good spots? You can comment below, or write to us at BikeWalkLincolnPark@gmail.com You can write to Alderman Smith directly to express your support for the use of these signs at YourVoice@ward43.org
Dear Alderman Smith,
We're writing today to ask you to spend a small portion of this year's aldermanic funds on In-road "State Law Stop for Pedestrians" signs in order to improve pedestrian safety in the 43rd ward.
Illinois State Law 625 ILCS 5/11-1002 requires drivers to come to a complete stop and yield the right-of-way to pedestrians attempting to cross the street within a marked crosswalk where no traffic signal is present.
However, in spite of the law, drivers almost never stop for pedestrians attempting to cross the street at one of our many unsignalized marked crosswalks. This is a serious threat to pedestrian safety, and it undermines the foot traffic on which our local retail businesses depend.
Install in-street pedestrian crossing signs (R1-6a) at unsignalized crosswalks where there are two lanes of traffic for cars.
This is less expensive and far more effective than the current approach of mounting signs on poles in each sidewalk or installing (and maintaining) special pavement markings.
Prevents pedestrians from being struck by cars, and prevents drivers from unknowingly violating the law or injuring a pedestrian.
Publicizes the new crosswalk law in a highly visible, unequivocal, fair, and cost-effective way.
Makes streets safer and more attractive to pedestrians, encouraging the foot traffic that drives local retail business.
We have proposed 30 locations.
On Stockton Drive at:
Chicago History Museum Parking Lot (Menomonee)
Nature Boardwalk/Green City Market (Lincoln)
Farm in the Zoo (Wisconsin)
Bus stop near Cafe Brauer (Armitage)
Bus stop on Stockton just north of Fullerton around 2500 North
Bus stop near Roslyn
Bus stop near Wrightwood
On Clark Street at:
On Wells Street at:
On Sedgwick at:
On Armitage at:
On Webster at:
On Lincoln at:
On Fullerton at:
On Wrightwood at:
On Diversey at:
If you’re reading this and live in another ward, we urge you to write to your own alderman to request them on streets in your neighborhood. Forward them a link to this post! We’d love to see these signs all over the city.