My Chicago injury attorney colleague, Jonathan Rosenfeld
and I were recently talking about the severity of injuries sustained by
pedestrians in our cities. As lawyers who represent victims of these
accidents we were discussing some preventative measures our respective
cities can take to help make walking though our cities a little safer.
Jonathan was kind enough to share some the ambitious safety plans that
Chicago is implementing to reduce the number of pedestrian accidents and
In 2011, the city of Chicago put together an analysis of the pedestrian accidents
that happened between 2005 and 2009 involving motor vehicles. The study
is part of an ongoing initiative to improve pedestrian safety and
increase awareness of the issue in the Chicago area. The crash analysis
is the first part of the city’s agenda to create a “Pedestrain Plan”
that will target safety measures for pedestrians and a public awareness
campaign on safety.
Safety Programs to Make Getting Around Chicago a Little Safer
The city of Chicago has implemented many programs over the years to
target pedestrian safety. These programs will be instrumental in the
ongoing investigation into how the city can make the streets of Chicago
safer for pedestrians. Several programs are in place to increase
- The Mayor’s Pedestrain Advisory Council. This council meets four
times a year to discuss pedestrian safety. The members of the council
include representation from different city departments along with people
from the health care, enforcement, disability rights and other
community groups. The council discusses pedestrian issues pertaining to
safety, public awareness, enforcement and brainstorms on ideas for
- Safe Streets For Chicago. This initiative was started in 2006 and
combined existing programs and initiatives working towards pedestrian
safety. It is comprised of the Chicago Police and Transportation
Departments along with the Office of Emergency Management and
- Safe Routes Ambassadors. This is Chicago’s outreach team to teach
pedestrian and bicycle safety to children. The ambassadors meet with
thousands of children each year through the elementary school system
doing in-class presentations and on-foot training.
- Safe Routes For Seniors. Focusing on seniors, this program conducts
awareness seminars at local senior centers, residences and health fairs
on walking benefits and safety.
- Pedestrian Safety Enforcement. This encompasses continuing efforts
to enforce pedestrian safety laws, especially in known high-crash areas.
Off-duty undercover policeman have been posing as pedestrians to catch
motorists who do not yield.
- Countdown Timers. These timers have been installed across the city
to help reduce pedestrian crashes at intersections. The timers let
pedestrians know how much time they have to cross and have been proven
effective in reducing accidents.
- Refuge Islands/Curb Extensions/Signal Timing. These initiatives are
being implemented by the CDOT and increase the amount of time traffic
signals allow for pedestrian crossing and reduce the amount of distance
they must cover to cross the street. This is especially beneficial for
children and senior safety.
- Traffic Calming. These tools help slow down traffic using speed
humps and bumps, traffic circles, curb bump outs and street closures.
They all focus on slowing or reducing traffic, especially in residential
Pedestrian safety resources: