Like all major cities in the U.S., Chicago has more than its share of dangerous intersections that are especially challengingfor pedestrians and bicyclists. In October 2014, the safety advocate groupActive Transportation Alliance initiated the Safe Crossing campaign to make citizens aware that nearly 8 out of all 10 pedestrian-related accidents in the Chicago metropolitan area occur within a 125-foot perimeter of intersections. The campaign also notes that 29 pedestrians died in 2013 within the city limits and 130 pedestrian fatalities occurred in Illinois in 2012.
The Alliance provided crash data of the 10 most unsafe intersections within the community and indicated that statistics maintained by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) note that nearly 7 out of every 10 pedestrian fatalities in the state have occurred in the Chicago metropolitan area.
Most Dangerous Chicago Intersections
The Safe Crossing campaign focused on 10 specific intersections in the city of Chicago that are the most dangerous. They include:
- Dearborn St. and W. Ontario St.
- South Cottage Grove Avenue and E. 79th St.
- Halsted St./N. Lincoln Ave./W. Fullerton Ave.
- Cicero Ave. and W. Chicago Ave.
- Milwaukee Ave./N. Damen Ave./W. North Ave.
- 63rd St. and S. Martin Luther King Dr.
- Cortland St. and N. Ashland Ave.
- Madison St. and N. Cicero Ave.
- 63rd St. and S. Ashland Ave.
- Elston Ave./W. Diversey Ave./N. Western Ave.
Most Dangerous Chicago Suburb Intersections
In addition, the group focused on 10 highly dangerous intersections in the Chicago suburbs that include:
- Halsted St. and E. 147th St. in Harvey
- 79th St. and Harlem Avenue in Burbank
- Madison Street and N. Harlem Ave. in Oak Park/Forest Park
- Madison Street and 1st Avenue in Maywood
- Ogden Ave. and N. La Grange Rd. in La Grange
- Glenview Rd. and Harms Rd. in Glenview
- Dempster St. and Shermer Rd. in Morton Grove
- Cermak Rd. and US Route 12 in Westchester
- Touhy Ave and North McCormick Boulevard in Skokie
- Cermak Rd. and S. Cicero Ave. in Cicero
Usually, any available funding for fixing the problem to improve pedestrian safety is nonexistent. To date, there is no dedicated ongoing funding source to ensure pedestrian walkways and intersections are maintained. Remedying these dangerous locations will likely take years to accomplish, especially because of the levels of impact and varying costs involved. In addition, any change will likely require the efforts of municipal governments, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT).
Fixing the design of challenging infrastructures throughout the community will never completely eliminate the potential risk of pedestrian-related accidents. However, there are other highly effective policy solutions that can be done including reducing the speed limits through neighborhoods. However, without the efforts of transportation officials and community leaders willing to demonstrate their commitment to creating an easier and safer way to cross streets and walk sidewalks, pedestrians will have to be more defensive when traveling through challenging areas.
Becoming a Proactive Pedestrian
Taking the steps to become a proactive pedestrian is easy when using marked crosswalks and pedestrian refuge islands when crossing busy intersections within the community. In addition, Chicago also utilizes beacons and signals to inform pedestrians and cyclists when it should be safe to cross the street. State law also mandates the use of in-road pedestrian signs as an effective way to remind motorists to stop for a pedestrian at or in the crosswalk.
Pedestrians can minimize the potential of being hurt when crossing intersections by using the pedestrian countdown timers that indicate the amount of remaining time for crossing the street. In addition, the pedestrian can also use accessible signals that provide viable tactile and auditory information, which is especially useful for individuals with low vision or blindness who must cross the road without assistance.
Increasing the potential safety of pedestrians is a slow ongoing process that requires focusing on the needs of bicyclists, pedestrians and others using Chicago’s roadways. Because of that, it is essential that every pedestrian look both ways before moving into traffic.