Editorial: In wake of tragedy, multiple solutions needed to improve crosswalk safety

  • A 'Ghost Bike' memorial stands on the south end of the crosswalk at Central Road near Melas Park in Mount Prospect, where bicyclist Joni Beaudry was killed.

      A 'Ghost Bike' memorial stands on the south end of the crosswalk at Central Road near Melas Park in Mount Prospect, where bicyclist Joni Beaudry was killed. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
The Daily Herald Editorial Board
Updated 8/2/2016 6:46 PM

Runners, cyclists, walkers ... all know that crossing a busy street can be very dangerous.

That can be true when crossing with a light or without. Too many drivers just don't pay enough attention.

 

Sadly, for 55-year-old Joni Beaudry of Mount Prospect, a mother of five, the danger that comes with an activity that should be healthy and positive ended with her death.

"It has me angry, confused and profoundly sad," said her husband, Eric Jakubowski, as he discussed her death with Daily Herald staff writer Marni Pyke in a story this week.

Beaudry was on her bike crossing Central Road near Melas Park in Mount Prospect when she followed all the rules to get across the busy street at a crosswalk that was recently improved to theoretically provide more safety.

But as happens all too often, a driver didn't yield despite the flashing lights and signs alerting motorists to pedestrians in the crosswalk. It's a tragedy that could have been avoided.

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But it also has sparked discussion on whether this particular crossing and many like it with new flashing beacons are sufficiently safe for pedestrians, especially on a four-lane street like Central Road on which 21,000 to 23,000 vehicles pass each day.

"I personally believe that crosswalk is still inherently dangerous because of the way it is set up," said state Rep. David Harris, an Arlington Heights Republican. It does not sufficiently alert traffic ... and I don't think the flashing lights are sufficiently noticeable."

Harris, Mount Prospect officials and Illinois Department of Transportation engineers plan to meet this week to assess the situation at that particular crosswalk. It's a discussion that hopefully will lead to safer crosswalks throughout the state. While traffic experts say the flashing beacons reduce the number of crashes, they are not foolproof, and other solutions, including more traffic enforcement, are likely needed.

"Let's see what needs to be changed and do it," said Mount Prospect Mayor Arlene Juracek. "When you have a tragedy, it's so unfortunate for the people involved, but it does become an important rallying point."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Indeed, everyone will benefit from the attention that Beaudry's husband is bringing to this issue.

"I want her death to be a wake-up call," he said.

For drivers that pass this particular crosswalk, and perhaps any crosswalk, a wake-up call is sorely needed. Pay attention, lessen your distractions and slow down.

"We need to change our driving behavior and habits and realize we need to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalks," Mount Prospect Police Chief Tim Janowick said

Such simple advice. And yet too many drivers don't heed it.

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