Tag Archives: Chicago

Study: 1 In 5 Chicago Drivers Ignore Handheld Cell Phone Ban

Using a hand-held cell phone will driving is now banned on all Illinois roads.

Using a hand-held cell phone will driving is now banned on all Illinois roads.

According to an Illinois Department of Transportation study, about one in five Chicago drivers flaunt the city’s nine-year old ban on using a handheld cell phone while driving.

The Chicago Tribune recently reported on the study, which observed over 33,000 drivers on streets, roads and highways all across the state.

While only a relatively small number of towns in Illinois (about 80) had handheld cell phone driving bans on the books, a statewide ban went into effect on January 1st. The study was done in November in advance of the new law in order to track the effectiveness of this traffic safety legislation.

Drivers can still use a mobile phone while driving a vehicle, however they must use some sort of hands free technology like a Bluetooth headset or the speakerphone functionality of the device.

Maybe not surprisingly, Chicago drivers were the worst offenders with 18% of all observed drivers using a mobile phone pressed against their ear or near their face while behind the wheel–despite living in a city with one of the first municipal bans in Illinois. Only 12% of motorists outside the state were seen using a handheld mobile phone while driving.

Say No To ‘Dibs’ Says Streets & Sanitation Commisioner

Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Charles Williams speaks to reporters Thursday.

Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Charles Williams speaks to reporters Thursday.

With the City of Chicago experiencing its first major snowstorm of the season, Streets and Sanitation Commisioner Charles Williams is telling Chicagoans that helping out your neighbor dig out a parking space is better than claiming “dibs” one one.

“Help your neighbors,” Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Charles Williams said during a news conference at the Office of Emergency Management and Communication Thursday according to DNA Info. “That would be my approach instead of dibs.”

Dibs or space saving is the time tested Chicago tradition of using lawn furniture or other household junk to save a street parking space after having dug it out after an exceedingly heavy snowfall.

Some residents who park on residential streets feel they are entitled to the spot after expending time and effort to shovel it out and don’t want someone else parking there.

Chicago’s Proposed Bike Tax Gets National Attention

Bikers "Mass" up traffic in Wicker Park

Bikers “Mass” up traffic in Wicker Park

While it currently seems to have fizzled out, the $25 bike registration fee proposed a few months ago by Ald. Leslie Hairston was getting some national attention recently.

An Associated Press story is making the rounds of the national media where Chicago is the primary focus, but it spotlights other places around the nation where similar taxes are being proposed including Georgia, Oregon, Washington and Vermont.

The story weighs the outraged biker point of view against others who feel biking infrastructure should be at least partially funded with tax dollars from the people who use it–the same way roads are funded by fuel taxes, etc.

Here’s the story from The Blaze, “Bike Hike: Why Chicago Considered a Bike Tax, and Why It’s Not Alone.”

Chicago To Remove Red Light Cameras At 18 Locations

A red light cameras stands watch at Damen & Division in Wicker ParkThe City of Chicago announced it would be removing 36 red light cameras at 18 intersections late Tuesday afternoon.

According to the city, the cameras at these intersections will be decommissioned due to a dramatic decrease in right angle crashes at those locations.

“Automated traffic enforcement, whether through red-light or speed cameras, is about
changing drivers’ behavior,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel via press release. “The cameras at these intersections are now showing a low level of crashes and dangerous angle crashes, which means an enhanced level of safety.”

Airplane Makes Emergency Landing On Lake Shore Drive Sunday

Drivers must have been shocked Sunday morning to see a small plane temporarily turning Lake Shore Drive into an airport landing strip.

Lombard resident John Pedersen was taking a small airplane for a spin when he started having problems with the plane’s tail. He radioed mayday. But Midway and O’Hare were too far away. Former Mayor Daley unceremoniously and illegally closed Meigs Field back in 2003, so that option was out.

City Report Spotlights Bike Crash Hotspots

According to the Chicago Department of Transportation, diagonal streets and downtown streets are the most dangerous roads for bike riders.

DNA Info Chicago reports
that Lincoln Ave., Milwaukee Ave., and Clark Street are the three most dangerous streets for bike riders in the city.

Milwaukee Ave. between North and Division was the most dangerous stretch of roadway for bikers with 50 crashes between 2005 and 2010.

In second place was Clark Street between Racine and Fullerton with 78 crashes, followed in third place with Milwaukee Ave. again but between Fullerton and Armitage with 34 crashes over that five year period.

City Adds Protected Bike Lanes Along Stretch Of Milwaukee Ave.

City Undermines Another Quick Alternative Route For Drivers

A biker crosses the bridge over the Ohio feeder ramp along Milwaukee Ave. as two confused pedestrians walk along the newly painted bike lanes.

The city debuted another, nearly one mile stretch of both protected and traditional bike lanes along Milwaukee Avenue between Kinzie Street and Elston Avenue Thursday.

The new bike lanes, designated as a “spoke route” or main bike thoroughfare, link the city’s first protected bike lanes on Kinzie Street with the ones along Elston Ave. and become the 30th mile of protected bike lanes in the city.

“We are redesigning intersections to ensure they are safer for bicyclists, and improve hundreds of miles of residential and commercial streets for the people who use them every day,” said Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein. “Chicago is planning to build more protected bike lanes than any other city in the country, and will soon be the most bike-friendly city in the United States.”

City officials tout the safety improvements there including resurfaced roadway, bike lanes in both directions with physical barriers and buffers and a bike passing lane on the bridge over the Ohio feeder ramp to allow faster cyclists to get by their slower counterparts.

City Converts State Street Median to ‘People Plaza’

Loop lunchgoers sit at the city's first "People Plaza" at State St. and Lake St. Friday afternoon.

 

The city has transformed a dirty median on State Street into an oasis for Downtown workers.

Friday morning, Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein, Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) and Chicago Loop Alliance Executive Director Michael Edwards officially unveiled the new “People Plaza” that extends from Lake Street to Wacker Drive.

The refurbished median which often was a hangout for the homeless or vagrants, now sports new metal picnic tables, benches, chairs and planters filled with flowers.

“This was a space that was underutilized,” said Klein. “As soon as we finished it was filled with people.”

Edgewater resident Kara Riggio sat enjoying the sunshine and having a bite to eat late Friday morning on one of the bright orange tables.

Read more at DNA Info Chicago.

Tribune Columnist Happy About Red Light Camera Ticket

Tribune Columnist Steve Chapman. Photo credit: Chicago Tribune

Tribune opinion columnist Steve Chapman received his first red light camera ticket recently.

Shockingly, he’s not upset.

Even more oddly, his $100 experience has actually sold him on using red light cameras as a traffic enforcement tool.

Chapman, somewhat of a libertarian in his political views, is a consistently contrarian voice in his columns and perhaps this may his most unique position yet.

In his piece, while originally doubting the veracity of the ticket, he watches himself online making a right turn on red without coming to a complete stop and realizes he screwed up.

While many people would still be angry, knowing that studies show crashes rarely happen when someone does what Chapman did making a right turn on red, he feels there’s one distinct advantage to RLCs–no cops.

Chapman makes the case that if a police officer stopped him for the infraction it would not only be expensive (like the RLC ticket) but he would have to endure 15 minutes or more of having to go through the ticketing process.

Essentially, he rationalizes his acceptance of a red light camera ticket by saying it is more convenient than getting ticketed by CPD.

Here’s Chapman’s full piece, “Red light cameras: My experience.”

Oh, and hear is a recent WGN Radio interview Chapman did on the subject of red light cameras.

Bike The Drive Event Closes Lake Shore Drive Sunday Morning

Don’t plan on taking a drive along Lake Michigan early Sunday morning.

That’s because you won’t be able to due to the Bike the Drive event.

Produced by the Active Transportation Alliance, Bike the Drive will close LSD to motor vehicle traffic between 5 AM and 10:30 AM Sunday, May 26th between Bryn Mawr and 57th Street.

The event is to allow thousands of bicycle riders  to ride the 15 mile route sans cars.

Bike the Drive is an annual event sponsored by MB Financial.