Submitted by Rburke on Mon, 09/08/2014 – 2:34pm
Chicagoland has much work to do when it comes to compliance with the Must Stop for Pedestrians law, which requires people driving to stop whenever a pedestrian has entered a crosswalk.
According to a recent survey we performed, drivers stopped only 18 percent of the time when people on foot attempted to cross a street in a traditional painted crosswalk.
As reported in an article about the survey in the Chicago Tribune,compliance was even lower — only 5 percent — at “unmarked crosswalks” — crosswalks with no paint on the road or other safety features. Under the law, a crosswalk is present whenever a sidewalk leads into the street, whether it’s marked or not.
There were more than 4,700 reported pedestrian crashes with 130 fatalities in Illinois in 2012, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation; 84 percent of the crashes and 69 percent of pedestrian fatalities in Illinois occurred in metro Chicago.
In the city of Chicago, pedestrian fatalities accounted for one-third of all traffic fatalities in 2012, compared to roughly 14 percent statewide.
The survey compared marked versus unmarked crosswalks on two lane roadways at 52 locations in the city of Chicago and nearby suburban communities.
We found that compliance with the law was significantly higher — 61 percent — at painted crosswalks with other safety features, like the in-road “stop for pedestrians” signs, brick or stone crosswalks, raised crosswalks, or flashing beacons.
The Must Stop law is intended to help pedestrians — which include people on foot as well as those using wheelchairs or scooters — get across streets safely. It also provides clear direction to motorists on their responsibilities and it gives police well-defined guidelines for regulation and ticketing.
The law encourages walking by allowing pedestrians to cross a roadway at any legal crosswalk, which is especially important where controlled crosswalks are far apart, at school crossings, and in retail areas.
The law goes hand-in-hand with the state’s Complete Streets policy for making streets accessible and safe for all users, as well as the city of Chicago’s “Zero in Ten” campaign to eliminate pedestrian fatalities by the year 2020.
In 2009, Active Trans successfully led a campaign to pass the Must Stop for Pedestrians law. Before that, the law only required drivers to yield. Active Trans rallied support from lawmakers, as well as backing from AARP Illinois, Access Living, the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Illinois State Police.
While the accuracy of the survey’s results for the region as a whole is somewhat limited by its scope and design, the results clearly show that Chicagoland motorists were significantly more noncompliant with the law than they were compliant.
Pedestrian injuries and fatalities are all-too-common in Chicagoland. We feel that better compliance with the Must Stop for Pedestrians law not only would save lives, but would make people feel more inclined to walk in their communities.
It is not just automobiles that do not comply but bicyclists as well:
Some of the comments made on the ChainLink Forum are as follows:
Reply by h’ 1.0 yesterday
All this is just smoke and mirrors to detract from the real threat facing Chicagoans on a daily basis- cyclists on the sidewalk.
Reply by Crazy David 84 Furlongs yesterday
I disagree. I think this is ignored even more than Speed Limits… I try, whether in my car or bicycle to always stop. And a few times it has almost gotten the pedestrian hit when the car behind me cuts around at high speed. Its a dilemma for most of us. Do I stop with the real risk of being hit and putting the pedestrian at risk, or do I not stop and thus act like a privileged jerk…
Reply by Jeff Schneider yesterday
Exactly. I think more drivers would like to comply, but don’t because the vast majority make it so difficult. We don’t have a large enough percentage of the driving public on board to make this law work.
Reply by Tom Z yesterday
I always try to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk. But, as stated you don’t know what the person behind you is going to do. If it’s a single lane of traffic in each direction it is much safer.
This is another reason I would like to see Milwaukee go down to a single lane in each direction on the NW side. It would make it so much easier and safer to cross. But, NIMBYs don’t want this, sad.
Reply by David Barish yesterday
I am all for safety and all for slowing down traffic but I do not like these crosswalks especially with a stop sign in the middle of the road in the middle of a block. As David mentioned, they can be confusing. I may stop but the person behind me may not. I also find that they encourage people to cross in the middle of the street rather than go to a corner. I can understand this in an area where its not easy to do so at the corner. Otherwise, it makes no sense to me and increases chaos where people do not know what they are supposed to do. I have posted elsewhere that I find the little stop signs in the road dangerous to me as a cyclist. The roadway is narrower and cars have a harder time squeezing by and putting me in jeopardy. Further, there are times when I am driving a vehicle and want to move over to give 3+ feet of room to a cyclist or to make sure my car does not hit an open door. I see the other side of the roadway is open. However, I am not sure if its ok to maneuver my vehicle over the stop sign that is sitting in the middle of the street. Then there are the people who see a stop sign and stop…when nobody else is there. If this law is to work there cannot be so many of these crosswalks. They should be exceptions. I find they are the rule rather than the exception so pedestrians cross everywhere and the world is dazed and confused. The stop signs are just in the way. Drivers should already know to stop at a crosswalk. I am sure there are statistics that prove me wrong but my unscientific experience is negative.
Reply by Self-sealing Stembolt yesterday
25MPH speed limits that are strictly enforced with heavy fines, and posted everywhere but on the limited-access expressways, would do a lot more to keep pedestrians and bicyclists safe than anything else.
After 20MPH the chance of a pedestrian being killed or maimed by an automobile driver doubles with every 5mph of speed an automobile is moving at.
20MPH would be twice as safe as 25, but getting cars slowed down to just 25MPH will be hard enough to tackle as a society right now. At speeds over 25 autos are going much too fast to slow down in time for pedestrians attempting to cross at a crosswalk, and cars are much less likely to even attempt to because by the time a driver sees the pedestrian inching into the crosswalk it is already too late for them to stop without screeching to a halt.
Like people have already said above, other drivers in this city will just go around any other vehicle that slows or attempts to stop in front of them in the roadway. It’s their first reaction to any vehicle that slows or isn’t going fast enough for them. Left, right…it doesn’t matter which side they go around, as long as they can get around and keep going to get wherever it is they are going in as little time as possible. That’s all most drivers care about.
The real problem is speed, and the impatient entitlement of auto drivers as a whole who feel their time is worth so MUCH more than the lives and safety of any other road users they may pass by in their hurry to get wherever they are going.
Reply by Jordan Schlife yesterday
I’m sure you mean well, but I have so many problems with what you’re saying… like you said, drivers should know to stop at a crosswalk, and be going slow enough to stop at a moment’s notice. I don’t find crosswalks confusing at all, and neither should anyone given the right to operate a massively dangerous weapon. And about passing in a crosswalk – no, it’s never okay to run over the stop sign – that would only happen when you irresponsibly pass and squeeze a biker.
Reply by Jeff Schneider yesterday
Tonight I did my own little survey on a round-trip ride from Andersonville to Central Station. I had to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks or at corners several times.
Even though each time I stopped, I made the most outrageous stop signal for the drivers following me, in no case did any of them stop. They just went around me, and the pedestrians waited until all cars had passed to cross.
In one case, a cyclist also passed around me (on the right-#@!@&%#!!), but he didn’t pass too close to the pedestrians in the crosswalk, and they didn’t seem annoyed at him.
Reply by Michelle Stenzel yesterday
Please don’t maneuver your vehicle over the Stop for Pedestrians signs.
Reply by Self-sealing Stembolt yesterday
There was a crosswalk enforcement sting operation just last Friday, I think, on Logan Blvd right as it comes off the big Logan “Square” roundabout circle. I drove right into their obvious net, and stopped for the nice plainclothes officer who stepped out right in front of me in the crosswalk with his umbrella.
The guy behind me almost hit me as he was halfway changing lanes to pass me at the time. He slid sideways halfway passing me and halfway still behind me at an angle. A car going the other way drove right past the guy in the crosswalk and one of the two police cruisers, in plain sight parked on the connecting drive between Logan Blvd. proper and the side mall/parking drive 100 yards further back, came screaming out after him with lights ablazing. Too bad, so sorry. I don’t know if he got a ticket or a stern finger-wagging. I continued on my way, after the “pedestrian” was to the other side of the street.