December 26, 2006

Plans For A More Walkable Chicago

Chicago Mayor Daley "has big plans to make things safer for those who prefer strolling to motoring," the Chicago Tribune noted in an editorial today. "A redesign of many curbs and intersections is under way to make them more pedestrian-friendly and render the act of crossing the street less risky. Also on the drawing board: more cameras to catch drivers who run red lights, and more pedestrian-countdown signals to alert street-crossers to either step it up or stay put."

The paper supports those plans, although it goes on to complain about planned "sting operations at high-accident intersections" this spring, when town officials "will go undercover and pose as average passersby--although to do any good they'll have to loiter around particular street corners. That might scare away the real pedestrians."

Apparently, the problem is "a creeping California-ism that would alter the equilibrium of Chicago's more competitive car-versus-pedestrian culture." Even though the paper says that more than one pedestrian a week is killed in Chicago traffic.

Whatever. But the curb and intersection redesign sounds like a wonderful idea.

If our Framingham town officials had to regularly walk to multiple destinations on both sides of Rte. 30, for example, I bet we'd see some different intersection designs here before too long. Just today, I'd planned to walk from my office across Rte. 30 to the Fidelity/Bank of America building. But traffic was heavy, and without a sidewalk around the bank, the thought of dashing across the intersection and then sloshing across the muddy, sloping grass was extraordinarily unappealing. I'd still like to know who allowed that building to be constructed without a sidewalk in front of it, since there already is a walkway in front of the other buildings on the block, and without any kind of reasonable pedestrian crossing.

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