Here’s an update on several state bills for safer streets – Streetsblog Chicago

Here’s an update on several state bills for safer streets – Streetsblog Chicago
Here’s an update on several state bills for safer streets – Streetsblog Chicago

Last week, Streetsblog reported on a pair of proposed Chicago ordinances to be considered by the City Council for a final vote on Wednesday, March 15. The Complete Streets ordinance would mandate walk/bike/transit improvements throughout Chicago Department of Transportation resurfacing and streetscape projects. And the Smart Streets Pilots ordinance would allow for camera enforcement of bus lanes, bike lanes and loading zones in the central city.

To help this bylaw pass on the 15th contact your councilor (find them here) to ask them to vote for it. Also consider signing up to make a public comment at the council meeting.

There’s also a ton of proposed livable streets legislation in play at the state level right now. Here is a quick summary. Thanks to Active Transportation Alliance Communications Director Ted Villaire for flagging these initiatives in a couple of recent blog posts.

New legislation now being considered by the Illinois legislature would give communities the ability to build intersections that are safer for people who walk and bike.

Eliminates the requirement for intersections to accommodate turns by 65′ truck drivers

As it stands, the Illinois Department of Transportation generally requires municipalities to construct major street intersections in such a way as to accommodate turns from the drivers of 65-foot trucks. That mandate may have contributed to the death of 47th Ward volunteer Peter Paquette, 75, who was fatally struck by a distracted driver last June while trying to cross the street at Irving Park Road and Hoyne Avenue in Chicago’s North Center neighborhood. 47th Ward-or Matt Martin and the Chicago Department of Transportation had previously proposed building a pedestrian island at this location, which would have made it safer to cross the high-speed, four-lane street, but IDOT officials would not sign off, citing demands for space for large trucks.

See also  Foxx policies punish the police instead of the criminals

An agreement was eventually reached to ease this requirement in Chicago, and many pedestrian improvements are coming to Irving Park this year. But the proposed truck turn radius bill would repeal the requirement to accommodate large truck turns across the country, which would make it easier for safety features like pedestrian islands, curbs and protected bike lanes. In addition to shortening crossing distances, this would calm traffic, discourage speeding and dangerously fast turns.

Per ATA, the Senate Transportation Committee requested changes to SB 2278, which is sponsored by state Sen. Mike Simmons. After it is amended, it is likely to be taken up in committee within two weeks.

Legalizing Idaho Stop

Idaho Stop, cyclists who attentively treat stop signs as yield signs, or stop lights as stop signs, is rational and ubiquitous behavior. And a 2016 DePaul University study pointed out that in some cases it may actually be safer than following the letter of Illinois traffic laws. Several states have already partially or fully legalized Idaho Stops, so named because the Gem State was the first to do so.

Where Idaho Stop is currently legal.  Image: Wikipedia
Where Idaho Stop is currently legal. Image: Wikipedia

A new Illinois Safety Stop law (the name is good marketing!) would partially legalize the Idaho Stop by allowing people on bicycles to roll through stop signs, provided they first look both ways for crossing traffic and pedestrians, and stop for other road users who have the right of way . Counterintuitively, it helps keep cyclists safer because they don’t have to stop, lose all speed and then start again, which means spending less time at the intersection.

See also  With Lightfoot a lame duck, the City Council looks set to declare independence

Again, this legislation would not make it OK to mindlessly blow through intersections with no regard for other road users, which is obviously dangerous and disgusting.

According to ATA HB 3923, sponsored by Reps. Janet Yang Rohr and Kam Buckner, did not come up for a vote at today’s House Transportation Committee meeting.

Reduce the speed limit in urban areas

Currently, Illinois’ standard speed limit is 30 mph. Federal studies show that when a motorist hits a pedestrian at that speed, the victim has a 45 percent chance of dying. But at 20 mph, the pedestrian has a 95 percent chance of survival.


Studies have also found that when posted speed limits are lower, drivers tend to slow down, with a marked reduction in extremely fast driving.

HB 3530, sponsored by Buckner and Theresa Mah, would lower the standard speed limit in urban areas to 20 mph, which could save countless lives. The law would only allow warnings, not tickets, to be issued to speeders for the first 60 days after the new speed limit is posted.

According to ATA, the members asked for changes at a meeting of the House Transport Committee today. Once the legislation is adjusted, it will return to committee, likely within two weeks.

Setting up a task force for zero deaths

ATA’s Villaire noted that over 200 people are injured or killed in traffic accidents every day in our state. HB 2131 would establish a state task force that would use a vision zero approach to prevent serious and fatal traffic accidents.

The committee will consist of municipal governments, DOTs, public health experts, safety advocates and other stakeholders. It would brainstorm strategies to prevent crashes, and assess Illinois’ success in reducing fatalities.

See also  A Chicago legend whose Italian steak sandwich helped inspire "The Bear" has died

Per ATA, HB 2131, sponsored by five Democratic senators, was amended today in the House Transportation Committee and is headed for a final vote in the House.

Kudos to the Active Transportation Alliance and other local advocacy groups like Chicago Bike Grid Now!, Ride Illinois and the Metropolitan Planning Council who encouraged residents to fill out online testimonials in support of the legislation ahead of the committee meeting this week.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *