In my travels around the neighborhood, I’ve observed what I've seen others do and what I find myself doing in response to reckless driving.
In the 19th ward and elsewhere in the city, traffic enforcement is disappointingly rare. Bad driver behavior has become so brazen in the absence of traffic stops that many drivers seem to be in a contest to see how much they can get away with.
Drivers who don't stop or barely slow down at
intersections are too common. They may not allow enough time for pedestrians and cyclists to
react, forcing us to stop suddenly or change course to avoid being hit in
situations where we have the right of way.
At intersections along 95th St., turning drivers often don't watch for pedestrians in
the crosswalk. Many drivers fail to stop at 4-way stops on 96th. In
locations such as the 9500 blocks of Damen and Longwood or intersections along 96th St., crossing
in the middle of the block can be much safer, because a pedestrian has more advance warning of an approaching car. I often find myself crossing at mid block and see others doing it, because drivers are roaring up to intersections so fast that we do not trust them to avoid hitting us when we are in the crosswalk.
I’ve noticed an increase in the number of adults riding bikes on sidewalks, coinciding with the increase in speeding and failure to yield. It seems that the percentage of adult bike traffic on Longwood on the sidewalk is much higher now compared to 10 years ago.
If I'm riding my bike and stop at the 4-way stop in front of my house, then attempt to ride into our mid-block driveway (E-W street), I often have near misses due
to drivers coming out of the alley without slowing down or driving fast after turning at adjacent intersections. In most situations I would not ride on the sidewalk
(illegal in Chicago for cyclists over age 12). I make an exception here because pedestrian traffic is minimal and I'd prefer not to end my ride with a trip to the hospital.
Here's another perspective on ped safety and crossing at crosswalks vs. other locations.
Safer walking and biking conditions encourage more walking and
biking to local destinations. Benefits for our neighborhoods include less stress, better health, reduced traffic congestion, fewer crashes and
injuries, more people going to local businesses, and less parking needed to
service those businesses. The net result: more money staying in our
community because people can get to local businesses safely.