New law aimed at giving pedestrians greater protection

In transit

 
 
Posted4/18/2010 12:01 AM

As a driver, have you ever coasted through a crosswalk without realizing it was a crosswalk? As a pedestrian, have you ever been annoyed waiting at a crosswalk for cars to stop?

I've experienced both situations, which is why House Bill 43 caught my interest. The proposal passed the Illinois House and could come before the Senate this week.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Spearheaded by the Active Transportation Alliance, the policy mandates drivers stop at crosswalks. Currently, the law says drivers should yield the right of way by slowing or stopping if necessary, which leads to ambiguity and accidents, ATA officials said.

Compared to other states, Illinois' pedestrian crash rate is dangerously high with more than 6,000 people hit in crosswalk accidents a year, the ATA's Dan Persky said. That translates into 1,000 serious injuries and 170 fatalities. A disproportionate number of those hit are children, Persky added. Changing the law will save lives, the ATA contends.

The policy is backed by the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police. "We feel it's a common-sense approach," association legislative representative Limey Nargelenas said. "We think the original law dealt with expediting traffic flow rather than safety for pedestrians."

But one suburban senator has some reservations. Sen. John Millner, a Carol Stream Republican and former police chief, says he'd be more comfortable if the law required signs be posted at crosswalks warning vehicles to stop.

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Educating motorists will take time, and Millner worries pedestrians and bikers who sally forth will risk being hit by drivers oblivious to any changes.

"I like the concept, but I want signs to go up before it goes any further," Millner said.

Stay tuned.

One more thing

The hamsters in the Soul started it all. Then there was Sock Monkey and other toys going rogue in a Sorento. Since then, Kia's been the hamster that roared, Director of Marketing and Communications Tim Chaney said Tuesday.

The auto manufacturer is reinventing itself with eight models coming out in 12 months. There's a new assembly plant in Georgia and 3 million vehicles sold in the first quarter of 2010, a record for the company.

This summer UVO (your voice) voice-command technology debuts in the Sorento. Plus revamped versions of the Sportage, Forte and Optima will come out later this year.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Oh, and expect more hamsters around the Memorial Day weekend, Chaney hinted at a Midwest Automotive Media Association event in Oakbrook Terrace.

Flotsam and jetsam

• Airline passengers with disabilities who need assistance at O'Hare or Midway can look for the purple airplane pin worn by staff at either airport. The color designates an employee with specialized training. The city also has developed a guide for travelers with autism. For more information, go to the Web site flychicago.com and click on the purple airplane icon.

• Construction woes aren't just on the Ike and Edens. IDOT is resurfacing I-90 between the Tri-State Tollway and Harlem Avenue plus I-57 between 157th Street and the Will/Cook County line. Work will last into July.

• The CTA has bus service from DeVry University parking lots, near Addison Street and Western Avenue, to Wrigley Field before and after Cubs games. Parking and bus fare for fans is $6. For info about the Route 154 Wrigley Field Express, contact 836-7000 or transitchicago.com.

• DuPage County's is offering a new interactive map for bikeways and trails. To get a look, visit http://gis.dupageco.org/dupagecountybikewayusersguide/.