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Pedestrian Deaths Averaging Over One a Week

By Prescott Carlson in News on Feb 17, 2009 8:00PM

Please don't run over Joe!
Pedestrian deaths in Chicago were up over 14% for a total of 56 in 2008, and the crack investigative team at RedEye (no, really!) are trying to find out why. After taking a look at Illinois Department of Transportation pedestrian fatality data, they noticed there were "clusters" along Lake Shore Drive, Stony Island Avenue, Madison Street and Ashland Avenue. Not surprising, since those are all extremely busy thoroughfares, but what is curious is that people are being killed at intersections that utilize red light cameras and the fancy "countdown" crossing lights. So clearly the problem goes beyond distracted drivers on cell phones to pedestrians acting recklessly:
Motorists shouldn't shoulder all the blame, said Jansen "John" Daoud, who runs a convenience store that faces the Chicago-Cicero intersection.

"Kids and adults cross ... illegally," said Daoud of Skokie. "Then cars come too fast."

Daoud says he sees two to three accidents there a week, including some that involve pedestrians.

Chicago Department of Transportation spokesman Brian Steele says the agency is looking into adding "pedestrian refuge islands" in the middle of the street to help prevent people from getting stuck in the middle of traffic, but anyone who's witnessed people trying to sprint across the wide expanse of Michigan Avenue with arms loaded with shopping bags and a count of 3 left on the light knows these are underutilized.

While we can't stop the stupidity of certain people crossing the street, IDOT hopes to at least make for more informed drivers. They issued a $27,000 grant to the Chicago Police Department last year, which helped them set up two "crosswalk awareness initiatives," pulling over 179 drivers after they failed to yield to undercover officers. Forty-eight more such initiatives are planned for 2009.

Photo from JOE M500