If you're a pedestrian in a major city, then you live in fear of your life every day. To cross the street is to be reminded that your life is cheap, and traffic rules are often viewed purely as suggestions. Even if you don't jaywalk.
So it's amazing to hear that Chicago is taking the issue of pedestrian deaths seriously, and actually has a plan to get rid of them entirely by 2022. According to Treehugger, the plan includes 250 long-term and short-term changes, some of which have already been put in place during this year's road-construction season. They include "expansive crosswalks," pedestrian islands in the middle of multi-lane streets, improvements to urban design, and stricter enforcement of traffic laws. (That last one would help a lot. I've lost count of how many times lately I've seen drivers barely even slow down at a Stop sign.)
Writes the Chicago Tribune:
Other long-term improvements discussed in the plan include staggered midblock bump-outs on residential streets to slow traffic.
Continental-style crosswalks were among the first changes, CDOT Commissioner Gabe Klein said, largely because the department began to weave in the new pedestrian plan in time for already-scheduled construction projects.
The crosswalks have big rungs across the walkway for higher visibility and are made of a reflective material, Klein said. More than 100 such crosswalks were installed in 2012, Klein said.
Pavement markings - on crosswalks and stop lines for vehicles - are faded across Chicago, and Klein said millions would be spent this year repainting such markings so they are visible to drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists.
As Treehugger notes:
Every city that aims to be highly walkable-and livable-should place pedestrian safety at the core of its mission... Quality of life improves drastically when people feel safe walking around. L.A. should be taking notes.