In many parts of the United States, going for a walk along a busy roadway can seem like a risk that’s not worth taking. Particularly in the largest urban areas, vehicle-pedestrian accidents are a major problem that persists due to poorly designed roadways and unsafe drivers. But in Illinois cities like Chicago, streets are becoming friendlier to pedestrians than ever before.
A report from the National Complete Streets Coalition hails Chicago as one of the safest metro areas in the U.S., in spite of its being one of the largest. This trend in pedestrian safety is in part a result of construction designs that look at roadways more holistically. A philosophy of creating complete streets includes the addition of bicycle lanes, sidewalks, and other walkways.
A high cost to the most vulnerable
The elderly are among the most likely to be in pedestrian accidents due to poor roadways. Unclear signage can cause someone to inadvertently walk into a dangerous situation, and excessively wide crossings may not give elderly pedestrians enough time to reach the other side. Children and minorities are two of the other demographics that most commonly fall victim to these types of collisions.
Although Chicago has taken strides in making its streets safer for pedestrians and despite their illustrious safety ranking in comparison to other metro areas, the fight is by no means over. From 2003 to 2012, 1,165 people were killed in pedestrian accidents, which means cities like Chicago will have to keep working to continue to bring that number closer to zero.
There may not be 100% safety for pedestrians in Chicago, but the city has at least taken a step in the right direction. With the addition of new roadways designs that have the people on wheels and the people on foot in mind, combined with greater public awareness, Chicago is on the road to better pedestrian safety.