Tag Archives: safety

Crosswalks around the Logan Square circle

29 May

There are three signal-less crosswalks that drivers must heed when entering or exiting the Logan Square circle (and another one within the circle). Comparing their characteristics offers an interesting lesson in street design as it pertains to pedestrian safety.

First, we have this crosswalk on Logan Boulevard:

Crosswalk - Logan east of the circle

Crosswalk on Logan Boulevard East of the Circle

The photograph faces southwest. Almost nobody stops for pedestrians here. Notice the diagonal angle of the crosswalk, requiring pedestrians to cover more distance than would be necessary if it were perpendicular to the curb. Also problematic is its placement immediately after the intersection at Albany Avenue.

Ahead to the west (right on the photo above), there is a stop sign at the circle, a crosswalk at western edge of Troy Street, and a stoplight where Milwaukee Avenue cuts through the circle. Eastbound drivers wait for the signal to change at Logan Boulevard and Milwaukee Avenue, then accelerate across Milwaukee Avenue, merging with southbound Kedzie Boulevard traffic before continuing around the circle.

Now look at this crosswalk on Kedzie Boulevard south of Logan Boulevard:

Crosswalk on Kedzie Boulevard South of the Circle

Crosswalk on Kedzie Boulevard South of the Circle

Many drivers heading south out of the circle navigate confusing lane changes before heading through this crosswalk and onto southbound Kedzie Boulevard.

Traffic moves pretty quickly through this narrow two-lane stretch, so pedestrians usually wait for a gap as drivers rarely yield to pedestrians here. The large median (partially visible to the right on the photo above) allows pedestrians some respite in crossing the southbound and northbound lanes of Kedzie Boulevard separately.

Lastly, here is the crosswalk at Wrightwood Avenue, on the west side of the circle:

Crosswalk on Wrightwood Avenue West of the Circle

Crosswalk on Wrightwood Avenue West of the Circle

The photograph faces southeast. Drivers consistently yield to pedestrians at this crosswalk, and pedestrians confidently cross with little hesitation. Notice the curb extensions that shorten the distance across the street for pedestrians and also shrink the space vehicles can travel through.

Drivers leaving the circle turn west on to Wrightwood Avenue (from left to right in the photo above) while eastbound vehicles have a stop sign before entering the circle.

Why do so many drivers yield at Wrightwood Avenue, but so few at Kedzie and Logan Boulevards? What is the most important characteristic of the Wrightwood Avenue intersection?

Perhaps it is the curb extensions. Curb extensions have been shown to have a calming effect on traffic.

Perhaps it is the larger number of pedestrians who use this crosswalk, many of whom are coming from the nearby train station.

Or maybe the stop sign for eastbound traffic leads people to believe the right-of-way belongs to pedestrians.  In fact, state law requires drivers to stop for pedestrians in all crosswalks.

Or it could be Wrightwood Avenue’s two lanes and two-way traffic compared to four lanes of sometimes separated traffic on Kedzie and Logan Boulevards.

Most likely, a combination of these characteristics and others accounts for a more friendly pedestrian intersection at Wrightwood Avenue.

Neighbors have proposed changes to traffic around the Logan Square circle for years. More recent detailed plans have been proposed for a major overhaul to the circle (although they conflict somewhat with the Logan Square Open Space Plan). We are excited and optimistic that the ultimate design will include significant considerations for pedestrian safety.


Crosswalk signs in Logan Square

1 May

Crosswalk sign Milwaukee and MedillHave you noticed these pedestrian signs popping up around the neighborhood? It’s surprising how effective they are at making our streets safer for pedestrians. Notice that they do nothing but bring attention to the law (625 ILCS 5/11-1002) that is already in place to protect pedestrians in crosswalks.

Though too few Chicago drivers comply with it, or perhaps are even aware of it, the law requires drivers not only to yield, but to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, whether there is a sign or not.

These highly visible signs are an educational tool, and they seem to be working to considerably increase the level of compliance with the law.  We think they also more generally calm the flow of traffic.

BikeWalk Logan Square has proposed the installation of these pedestrian signs at specific locations around the neighborhood.  Reflecting various factors, we have organized our requests into different priority levels as indicated in the map below.
Priorities for Logan Square Pedestrian Signs

Safety issue: mid-block Kedzie Ave. crossing

26 Oct

With problems at the Kedzie Avenue crosswalks north and south of the Logan Square Blue Line station/bus terminal and with the tendency for people to choose the shortest distance between two points (in both time and space in this case) or their own desire paths, pedestrians usually cross Kedzie Avenue mid-block where there is no crosswalk and no pedestrian crossing signal.  They are vulnerable targets as they dodge bus, car and bicycle traffic from two directions.

Safety issue: Kedzie Ave. pedestrian crossing signals at Milwaukee Ave.

25 Oct

At the south end of the Logan Square Blue Line station/bus terminal, the Kedzie Avenue crosswalk at Milwaukee Avenue is angled in a way that makes sense in relation to the station.  It is also at a signalized intersection that includes pedestrian crossing signals.

However, the pedestrian crossing signals are not properly synched, making it impossible for a pedestrian to fully cross Kedzie Avenue with the signalled crossing.  You can cross from one side of Kedzie Avenue to the median with the walk symbol, only to find yourself stranded in the median with a “Don’t Walk” sign for the remainder of the crossing.

Safety issue: Kedzie Ave. crosswalk at Emmett St.

24 Oct

The Kedzie Avenue crosswalk at Emmett Street does not take anyone where they might want to go in relation to the Logan Square Blue Line station/bus terminal.  If you’re arriving on foot from the east, it does not make sense to take a crosswalk that angles north away from the station.  If you’re leaving the station heading east, it does not make sense to go north to take a crosswalk angled south.

In addition, the crosswalk is not striped and the minimum markings that are present are partially worn away.  As currently marked, it does not send the appropriate message to motorists to be on alert for crossing pedestrians.

At issue: Safety

19 Oct

In observing the environment for walking and biking in the Logan Square neighborhood and particularly around the Logan Square Blue Line station/bus terminal (though at other key intersections as well), BikeWalk Logan Square recognizes that safety is an issue.

According to data compiled by the Active Transportation Alliance, from 2006 to 2009, there were 13 crashes with injuries involving cars and bikes or cars and pedestrians within 300 feet of the Logan Square station.  We know of at least two more, including one resulting in a death, that happened earlier this year.

The current focus of BikeWalk Logan Square addresses the safety issues closest to the station.  There are other hopes, plans and people looking at the safety issues around the Logan Square roundabout and its intersections.

Location of Car/Bike and Car/Pedestrian Crashes with Injuries 2006 - 2009