Growing up in the 1970s many of us were able to walk or bike to neighborhood schools. Mornings were filled with younger children singing the latest songs on “the then new” MTV channel, while the older fifth grade kids acted as crossing guards to assure safe passage when crossing neighborhood streets. Biking to school was also an adventure, as it provided that first taste of freedom and responsibility to young students. It was important to obey the traffic signals and being sure to lock up one’s bike for safe keeping – just in case there was a Scut Farkus lurking around.
From the beginning the Avoca School District #37 Board of Education has been in support of providing safe passage to school. The board believes that safe passage to schools is of “paramount important” and has the clarity to see that the problem is “exacerbated in the winter months when standing snow and slippery conditions significantly impair safe passage.” You may read the resolution here, Traffic Safety Concerns Avoca.
As we continue to work with our villages and residents it is important that we do not lose sight that while the weather is amazing now and children are out for the summer, that does not dismiss the underlying issues that need to be resolved in our communities. Those issues being to assure that all our residents, from young to old, have safely designed – pedestrian friendly, neighborhoods, trails, and roadways for decades to come.
Small increments in speed have deadly consequences.
We all have done it; traveled faster than the posted speed limit in order to arrive at our destination a bit quicker. Perhaps we got a late start to our morning, or were running late picking up the kids – we want to make up those few precious seconds by exceeding the speed limit. Our belief is that small increases in speed will have a massive effect on our ability to make up time, while having little to no effect if an accident were to occur. When it comes to pedestrians, nothing could be further from the truth.
A perceived small increase is speed from 20 mph to 30 mph, increases the likelihood of a pedestrian casualty in the event of an accident nine fold, from 5% to 45%. Another 10 mph increase from 30 mph to 40 mph increases the likelihood of a pedestrian being killed when stuck by an automobile to 85%. That remaining 15% would cause a serious injury. Something to think about when you are driving in a pedestrian zone around parks, schools, shopping centers, and villages.
||Odds of Pedestrian Death
(Data source: Killing Speed and Saving Lives, UK Dept. of Transportation and Vehicle Speeds and the Incidence of Fatal Pedestrian Collisions prepared by the Australian Federal Office of Road Safety.)
Have you ever wondered about the traffic around our schools and the number of speeding vehicles and accidents? Working with the Village of Wilmette, the Pedestrian Safety Committee tabulated the number of incidents over the past 6 years into two categories: Motor Accidents and Speeding. Three areas were reviewed for the study:
- Illinois Rd. and Hibbard Rd. (near Marie Murphy)
- Lake Ave. and Laramie (near Loyola Academy)
- 3500 – 4000 Lake Ave (From West Park to Wilmette Golf Course)
So what do the statistics show? Not surprisingly for any of us that have driven or walked along Lake Ave, speeding is a major issue. When reviewing 3500 through 4000 Lake Avenue which runs past the entrance road to Avoca West Elementary, there were just over 950 citations for speeding over the past 6 years. On average around 1 speeding ticket every 2.5 days. There have also been around 160 traffic accidents during this same time. Close to one accident every 14 days.
The Pedestrian Safety Committee knows that steps can be taken to help the situation. We plan on engaging Cook County on implementing speed calming measures along Lake Ave. We also plan to request a traffic signal at the corner of Sherwood and Lake Ave, which will act as a speed calming measure and help control the flow of traffic into Avoca West Elementary.
Here is the data:
|Illinois Rd. and Hibbard Rd.
|Lake and Laramie
|3500 – 4000 Lake Ave.
Dear Avoca School District 37 Parents and Concerned Citizens,
Below is a link to a petition created by the Pedestrian Safety Committee. Please take the time to read through the petition, sign it, and send it on to as many people as possible. The more signatures and support we gain from the community the better.
The petition asks for three items to be the focus of an immediate study to improve the safety of pedestrians:
- A plan to add sidewalks to the surrounding Avoca West Elementary school neighborhoods.
- Improve traffic flow through the creation of a new egress point at the rear of Avoca West Elementary.
- Install and enforce speed calming measures on Lake Ave, Skokie Blvd, and Illinois Rd.
Petition to the Village of Glenview and Wilmette.
NOTE: If you have never used change.org, it will ask you to fill in your name and address. There is a check box with the label “Display my signature on Change.org” which will show your name on the signature line. If you allow for this feature (leave it checked), it will NOT show your street address and will only show the village where you live.
Part of challenge when working with community leadership is the variation a citizen can experience in terms of responsiveness. One community can be extremely supportive and work with its citizens to address safety or general concerns in the area. Another community can lack the follow-through to complete citizen requests. As an example, back in November 2013 the village of Wilmette was notified of a safety concern on a walkway to Avoca West by the Avoca West PTC. There was a response from the village of Wilmette that action would be taken to remedy the situation. As of yesterday, June 2, 2014 no action has been taken. It is disappointing to think that the village of Wilmette would let a whole school year expire before taking the simple action of refreshing crosswalks. (Note: During the same time a new platform tennis club was erected at on West Park Ave.)
Below you will find the response from the village of Wilmette on the action to be taken at the corner of Lake and Manor Drive and the corner of Lake and West Park Drive. You will also see two images taken June 1st of those same corners.
We encourage Wilmette residents and pedestrians of all communities to contact Brigitte Mayerhofer and ask when the ‘refreshing’ will be completed.
A letter from Wilmette dated Nov. 27, 2013 – six months later no action has been taken.
Wilmette, IL allows a pathway to school to deteriorate rather than refresh the crosswalk.