Roads do not wear well for walkers

Have you ever thought about a road? It is something one does not usually give much thought to outside of coming across traffic congestion or the occasional pothole.

Road are designed to have a pitch that allows water and debris to flow to the gutters. This is great as the gutters flow into sewers and keep the streets clutter free. There is a bit of wear that build up over time near the edge of the gutters, but since traffic drives in the middle 90% of the road the wear does not impact the average driver. Who it does impact is pedestrians, when sidewalks are not in place.

The same small break in the road that a truck or car would glide over can cause a pedestrian to lose balance or fall down. This is especially true of our children or retired neighbors whose balance is compromised due to their life stage.  Something to think about next time you are driving around and notice a neighborhood which lacks sidewalks.

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Expansion of Bike Paths across Chicagoland

The Chicago Tribune had an article about the expansion of bike trials in the Chicagoland area. Broken out in the article is the master plan for Glenview which is a long-term plan for the completion of bike trails and sidewalks. In essence filling in the gaps where there are missing walking and biking options for Glenview residents.

“Glenview’s master plan, passed in 2007, proposes to install about 50 miles of bike paths and about 15 miles of sidewalk paths by 2030, according to village documents. So far, the village built about 3.8 miles of new bike lanes or trails and about 0.7 miles of new public sidewalks, according to Joe Kenney, Glenview’s director of community development.”

Part of the master plan includes focusing on the area East of Harms Rd., where walkways need to be constructed to allow students the ability to walk to school safely and securely. This is one of the areas that the Pedestrian Safety Committee is focused on helping to get completed.

You may read the full article using the link below.

http://my.chicagotribune.com/#section/544/article/p2p-80299339/?related=true

Go Ahead and Ignore that 20 MPH School Zone

The Pedestrian Safety Committee has been working with Glenview, Wilmette, and Northfield village since the fall of 2013.  Often it is difficult for the villages to notice zoning issues that are clearly failing.  A great example is Lake Ave at Sherwood, which is a 20 MPH zone when students are present.  As anyone who has driven down Lake avenue in morning will attest to, no one is doing 20 MPH.  To capture the issue, we recorded a student at 8:00 AM in the morning standing right at the entrance of Sherwood and Lake, the path students are expected to take to get to Avoca West Elementary.  You will notice a number of issues:

  • No traffic signal is in place to help regulate traffic and provide for the safe crossing of pedestrians.
  • Drivers are not slowing to 20 MPH in the school zone. (At 48 seconds into the video you will hear a car horn when a single west bound driver, on the other side of the street, slowed to 20 MPH and was aggressively honked at by another driver.)
  • Drivers pulling out to Lake from Sherwood only look to their left, completely ignoring any pedestrian approaching to the right.

If a picture is worth 1000 words, then a video is worth of community discussion.

Dangerous by design 2014 Report

Attached you will find the Dangerous By Design 2014 Report, by Smart Growth America.  The report highlights how road planning, design, and construction greatly affects the speed at which drivers travel along a stretch of road.  A concept of lane narrowing is brought up in the report which at first appears counterintuitive.  However by narrowing the width of the lanes on arterial roads, accidents are reduced, especially involving pedestrians.

One does not have to look far to see the concept of modern “complete street” design being executed in our communities. The village of Northfield successfully campaigned for narrower 10 foot lanes to be used in the design of Willow Road.  This same approach should be adopted for Lake Ave, which like Willow Road also features two school, a park, and community shopping, however Lake Ave has lane widths approaching 12 feet.

Take the time to read the report and please pay extra attention to the before and after road redesigns scattered throughout the report.

Read Dangerous By Design 2014

Dangerous by design?

Poor community planning and road construction do not only affect the communities of Glenview, Northfield, Wilmette, and Winnetka; poor road planning is a nationwide issue that needs to be corrected.  As our roadways are updated, focus continues to be placed on how they can return to their roots of catering to pedestrians.  Overtime the roads have become the place where the automobile dominates to the detriment of other forms of transportation.  Many organizations throughout the United States are working with local governments to raise awareness and getting involved in future planning.

We will be posting a report on safe roads by the Organization for Smart Growth in America as soon as the report is published.  In the meantime you can read more about the issues facing America’s communities at http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org/.  You may also view a presentation by the same organization on the Complete Street initiatives, http://www.slideshare.net/CompleteStreets/complete-streets-presentation.

Wilmette, Cutoff From Avoca West Elementary 50 Yards Away

Wilmette, IL is an upscale community in Chicago’s North Shore.  When most Chicagoans think of Wilmette, they imagine a commuter train community, nestled up against Lake Michigan, complete with tree canopies and walkable shopping.  Great care has been taken to plan out this image of Wilmette, and homes in the eastern part of the village sell for a premium.

There is a second Wilmette, West Wilmette in which planning is anything goes.  Instead of carefully laying out a plan, neighborhoods are a hodgepodge of different streets widths, walkability, traffic flow, and long-term planning.  Case in point is Avoca West Elementary and Marie Murphy Middle Schools both on the western end of Wilmette.  Both these schools were at one-time located near two lane residential streets that would make them ideal for children to walk to school.  Both these schools have been neglected for years in regards to walkability and the village of Wilmette appears to take great pains to not develop a master plan that would complete the streets to these learning centers.

The Pedestrian Safety Committee wants to raise the awareness of the issues surrounding these schools.  The first focus will be on Avoca West Elementary School.  This school is cutoff from Wilmette students which live only 50 yards away in the following ways:

  1. An entrance into Wilmette has never been developed.
  2. Walking paths are chained off to disincentivize walking.
  3. Lake Ave has never been completed for walkability.

We call on the village to remedy these issues and get up to speed with complete street guidelines, to allow for all people to use the roads regardless of transportation choice.

Below is a slideshare link with images that highlights the issues in the area.

http://www.slideshare.net/DanielNehring/avoca-west-50-yards-away-from-wilmette-and-unwalkable

Getting Started at Avoca West

This is our first post.  We are a group of citizens and residents who live within the northern suburbs of Chicago, Illinois.  Our goal is to focus on pedestrian safety for all by working with fellow residents and local villages in planning walkways and roadways that take into account pedestrian safety.

One of our first presentations to raise awareness is available on slide share.  It conveys past research and the problems with the neighborhood surrounding Avoca West Elementary school.  An elementary school that lacks a walkable path for children in surrounding neighborhoods.  There are plenty of sidewalks that lead into the Avoca West neighborhood, however the neighborhood surrounding the school lacks sidewalks.  This forces students on to a shared street with morning motorist.  Thus few parents and children walk their kids to school.

Here is a link to the Power Point presentation on slide share.

Avoca West The Un-Walkable School in the Middle of a Neighborhood.