There was a recent study titled “Dangerous by Design 2014” and good news for Chicago: Pedestrians in Chicago are less likely to be killed in traffic accidents than in most of the nation’s big cities. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that there are still far too many injuries and deaths from pedestrian accidents in Chicago, its surrounding suburbs and all of Illinois.
Being a lifelong Chicagoan, I’m of course glad to see that Chicago was at the bottom of the list (45 out of 51). However, in the past ten years in Chicago, there have been more than 1100 deaths from pedestrian accidents and many thousands of injuries from accidents involving pedestrians.
Based upon technological advances in vehicle design and the way vehicles are manufactured, cars are safer and therefore, occupants of vehicles involved in accidents are less likely to be killed as they once were, i.e., people killed in vehicle crashes has seen sharp decline. The same is not true for pedestrian traffic deaths. Unfortunately, technology advance will not make pedestrians less vulnerable in pedestrian accidents. In fact, pedestrian traffic deaths have been on the rise for the last several years.
What can be done to prevent pedestrian deaths and serious injuries?
There are things that municipalities can do (and are doing) to prevent pedestrian accidents involving deaths and serious injuries. There are also things that pedestrians can do (and are NOT doing) to prevent pedestrian accidents.
The municipalities can:
- Reduce the speed limit in residential areas;
- Create midblock crossings on low-volume, low-speed roadways;
- Create medians (refuge crossings) to separate two main directions of traffic;
- Place cameras around parks, schools and other places children tend to be; and
- Enforce of the law.
Pedestrians can (and listen to this because it’s a biggie):
- Pay attention! Whatever is happening on your mobile device can wait!! Use your eyes! Use your ears! Don’t walk/jog/run distracted!!! Your life depends on it!!!!
Why are there less pedestrian deaths in Chicago than in other big cities?
Compared to other big metropolitan areas, Chicago has a lot of sidewalks for pedestrian use. Chicago also has a lot of transit options which reduce the number of cars on the road. Chicago has a lot of walkers, people walking to transit and work. The more walkers, the safer walkers are – safety in numbers. Lastly, Chicago has a very good grid which helps move vehicular traffic more efficiently than cities without a good grid.