Safe Traffic,Transportation, sidewalks concerns

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See June 16 2012 "Walk and Roll: Sidewalk Survey of 55th Street, From the Lake dfron to Ellis Avenues."
Read the Report in pdf.
George Rumsey (comments: writes:
If anyone would like to be involved in "Walk and Roll 2," we're beginning to plan our second survey for late September. We're thinking of covering Lake Park, Cornell, and Hyde Park Blvd. between 53rd and 57th Streets. If you'd like to be involved or kept informed, drop me a note.

December 2012 a new "State Law Pedestrian Crossing" sign was installed at the intersection of Hyde Park Blvd and Harper Ave to help facilitate the safe passage of Kenwood Academy High School students at that busy intersection. The sign reminds drivers that if a pedestrian is present, that they must stop until they have safely crossed the street.

Chicago Shovels-The City of Chicago has a helpful website dedicated to snow removal and other services related to inclement winter weather. It even features a snow plow tracking app you can add to your mobile phone to track where the snow plows are in your community.

Shovel Your Sidewalk or Face Tickets:

Shoveling Your Sidewalk – It’s the law. Help make Chicago safe for everyone by clearing snow and ice from the public sidewalks around your property. City inspectors will be ticketing property owners and businesses that fail to shovel their sidewalk.

Application of salt on sidewalks: De-icing salts can cause severe damage to concrete that has not been formulated, mixed, such as regular rock salt or sodium chloride. Calcium chloride is another deicing salt, which is highly recommended for new sidewalks. Many people have seen these small rounded white pellets. It can continue to melt snow and ice as temperatures fall well below 0 F. It can cause skin irritation if your hands are moist when using it. Avoid the use of fertilizers as de-icing and traction agents; those that contain ammonium nitrate and ammonium sulfate can rapidly disintegrate concrete; if you don't have salts available use sand to stop you from slipping and sliding.

2013 Shared Cost Sidewalk Program Opens To New Applicants Jan. 1, 2013

New stop signs in the area- 51st and Cornell. Ordinance introduced for 55th and Kenwood is stalled in CDOT resistence and disagreement between 4th and 5th ward aldermen. Turn signals have been introduced at Woodlawn and Ellis on 55th which is undergoing road diet and bike lanes (as survey shows its walks to be terrible.) What's finished so far has met with VERY MIXED TO NEGATIVE REVIEWS, ESPEC. AT THE 5TH WARD MEEING JULY 24.

CDOT dreams up ways to make things safer for pedestrians (or, beyond speed cameras, humps, and bump outs)

CDOT in May 2012 is putting forth its 2-year plan--ideas that could be implemented in a couple of years such as 20 mph limits or residential streets and an extra 3 seconds of walk signal before cars could start through. They want to eliminae ped-bike-car crashes within 10 years. There will be 300 more countdown signal intersection in 2012, and 100 more the next yar depending on funding.
100 intersections with the extra 3 seconds in 2012 and 2013.
They also want to step up annual bridge maintenance- and eliminate every pothole before the following season, and patching done within 72 hours. Project updates will be offered at the end of each year. The city seeks a higher return of the transportation dollars going to the state and federal governments.

When are stop signs unsafe and ineffective?

The U.S. Department of Transportation website says, all too often! As stop signs proliferate, drivers stop seeing them or even grow contemptuous and impatient of them, especially when at any given pass there may be no cross traffic or pedestrians in sight. Worse, drivers often speed up to make up for the lost time--especially if the reason for the signs is mainly to "calm" (slow) traffic.

Stop signs also give a false sense of security, especially to pedestrians and bike riders. Tip: don't assume a car is going to slow down or stop until you see it do so. But children and pets don't think of that.

The ambiguities: Are they going to stop? will they let me go first, or start up again?

Stop signs also have other costs--congestion, pollution, noise, fuel consumption.

Mike Hoke (who frequently emails us on traffic, parks and community quality of life issues) has been looking at various proposals made for stops along South Shore Drive from 53rd to 56th. Originally a supporter of stops at every significant interface to stop the speeding, especially of those exiting Lake Shore Drive and cutting through the neighborhood, has recognize merits in arguments against most or these (specific as well as the general articles above) and thinks some form of speed bumps or other physical calmers may work better, limiting real stops to 1 or 2.

Brief topics.

A group is seeking a stop sign at 55th and Kenwood, a poor visibility intersection. Ald. Hairston introduced an ordinance for such June 27 2012. However, CDOT and Ald. Burns oppose, at least until there is time to assess the re-laning (including for bikes) on 55th. Noted is the potential for accidents and rear ending west-bound around the University Apartments and back-ups. Noted also is that stop signs increasingly give a false sense of security. Signs advising to stop for pedestrians crossing (a relatively new law) will be installed. No action on a stop sign is likely before fall 2012. Nothing is known of a possible compromise such as stop on the eastbound side. Work on the 55th St. reconfiguration was about half done by mid July 2012.

Visit the Disabilities Task Force page. One of their next projects is to survey bad sidewalks and cross walks. Already, Ald. Hairston has gained a commitment for major improvements, including a count-down signal for the Lake Park-55th intersection and improvements at other Lake Park intersections (now undergoing signal replacement).

A question. Would opening of 57th between Stony Island and Lake Park improve or retard safety? Ald. Hairston said at a town meeting she is disinclined to agree to the change, since many are concerned about traffic and safety issues.

Yael Hoffman called in August 22 letter to Herald for improvements to slow Woodlawn Avenue north of 55th: crosswalks at 54th place; chokers or speed humps?


Sidewalks at and in Jackson Park have solicited numerous letters and complaints, particularly that along the south side of 56th St. and near Cornell down to 59th (which has a treacherous crossover that a walk leads to. In the April 4 2007 Herald, Hairston said she is working to get the 56th walk repaired this construction year and that there is a lengthy process and limited funds. The walks, with ADA patches at crossings, were done in summer 2007.

In her letter, "An accident waiting to happen,"[...the writer] accused me--unfairly--of dismissing a legitimate constituent concern. That is a matter I take very seriously, so let me take a moment to set the record straight. First, I have never had a "meeting" with either Ms. Jackson or her group. Las summer, Ms. Jackson and a fellow resident met with a member of my staff. They shared their concerns with him and he brought them back to the office.

I did speak with Ms. Jackson last week, but I never told her that her issue was not a priority. I directed my staff to contact the city's Department of Transportation to look into expediting repairs to the sidewalk on Monday, March 26. Given that the Herald's deadline for letters is the Friday before publication (in this case, March 23), it is clear to me that Ms. Jackson was not interested in waiting for a response from my office before submitting her letter. In addition, construction season has not begun in the City of Chicago, and will not begin until later this spring. With that said, I am working to get the repairs done this construction year.

Capital repairs come out of the $1.3 million dollar aldermanic menu. I am called on to spend those dollars to repave sidewalks, streets, alleys and curbs and install streetlights, traffic signals and speed humps. There are a lot of damaged sidewalks, bumpy streets and dim streetlights in the ward-- many carryovers from my predecessors. The menu is a very small pot of money and is spoken for as much as two years in advance. As the Herald recently reported, I try to spend every penny of my menue dollars to maintain and improve infrastructure in the ward. Although the requested improvements do not happen overnight, they do happen and my office responds to these requests in the order in which they are submitted. That is the only way to be fair.

I take constituent request very seriously and my staff works very hard to be responsive to residents' needs. However, we all must understand that there is a process that requests have to go through. Just as I work to be fair to all of to the more than 69,000 residents living in the ward, residents also have to give us a fair opportunity to address their concerns. Ms. Jackson has not done that.