CDOT Announces New Vision Zero Community-engagement Efforts on South, West and Northwest Sides to Help Reduce Dangerous Speeding and Crashes
CDOT is also Stepping up Traffic Safety Improvement Projects with Dedicated Funding of $49 Million Provided Through Mayor Lightfoot’s Capital Plan
Mike Claffey 312.744.0707 | Michael.Claffey@cityofchicago.org
Susan Hofer 312.742.2006 | Susan.Hofer@cityofchicago.org
CHICAGO – The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) today announced the start of two new Vision Zero Chicago community-engagement efforts to reduce traffic deaths and injuries in high-crash areas this spring: one on the South Side including Englewood, West Englewood, Grand Boulevard and Washington Park; and one on the West and Northwest Sides in Belmont-Cragin, Humboldt Park and West Town. The announcement comes as CDOT increases citywide investment in traffic safety projects focused on the needs of Black and brown communities that experience higher crash rates through $49 million in dedicated funding provided by Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot’s Capital Plan, which was approved by the City Council in November.
"Investing in traffic safety makes our communities safer, more equitable, and more accessible—and puts more opportunities within reach of residents in every neighborhood,” said CDOT Commissioner Gia Biagi. “Collaborating with neighborhood residents helps produce safer streets that also reflect local knowledge and needs."
With the impacts of COVID-19, Chicago and many other cities experienced reduced traffic volumes that were accompanied by a surge in speeding and traffic deaths. According to provisional data, 139 people died in traffic crashes in Chicago in 2020, 43 more than in 2019, representing a 45 percent increase from 2019. New York City recorded a similar increase, along with cities nationwide and around the world, as wide urban streets saw sparse traffic that induced reckless speeding.
Mayor Lightfoot’s Capital Plan, approved during the City Budget process in November, provides $49 million over two years for the Complete Streets program. This program takes a multi-modal approach to improving traffic safety for all users of the right-of-way, particularly those who are most vulnerable, such as people walking, riding bikes and accessing transit. This investment includes $10 million for Vision Zero and pedestrian safety treatments; $17 million for expanded and upgraded bike facilities; and $10 million for investments in the City’s transit system, such as station-area and bus stop upgrades that help improve the experience of getting to and taking transit.
Under the Vision Zero Chicago Program, the City is using all the tools in its traffic safety toolbox to combat the alarming rise in speeding and fatalities. This includes lowering speed limits where possible; reducing lanes dedicated to motor vehicles; investing in rapid delivery infrastructure projects to make streets safer for everyone; and by using automated speed enforcement to deter speeding.
Last year, CDOT installed pedestrian safety infrastructure - such as pedestrian refuge islands and pedestrian bumpouts that extend the sidewalk and shorten the crossing distance - at over 250 intersections around Chicago.
The Vision Zero planning efforts launching on the South, West and Northwest Sides this spring will mirror the 2019 Vision Zero West Side Plan a community-based process that increased safety investments and improved safety at pedestrian crossings on major arteries such as Madison Street, 16th Street and Ogden Avenue.
As part of its overall citywide traffic safety efforts, starting March 1, the City will start issuing violations under the Automated Speed Enforcement Program to the owners of vehicles clocked driving 6 MPH over the speed limit in Child Safety Zones located near schools and parks. The previous threshold for a speeding violation was 10 MPH above the speed limit. The fine for speeding 6 to 10 MPH above the speed limit is $35; for vehicles travelling at 11 MPH and above the fine is $100.
It’s been proven that even incremental reductions in speed greatly increase the likelihood of avoiding death or serious injury in the event of a crash. According to federal traffic safety data, a person struck by a car traveling 20 MPH has a 90 percent chance of living. If that car is traveling 30 MPH, there is a 50 percent chance the person struck will die; if struck by a car traveling 40 MPH, the chance of survival is only 10 percent.
Chicago’s Vision Zero program is based on the principles of the international Vision Zero movement. It incorporates traffic crash data, identifies the greatest opportunities for change, and establishes priorities and resources for addressing traffic violence as a public health challenge.
Using crash data, Chicago’s Vision Zero Action plan identified 43 High Crash Corridors and eight High Crash Areas in Chicago. Of the High Crash Areas, seven of the eight are on the West and South Sides of the City and one is downtown, where the higher crash rate is correlated with higher density and higher volumes of vehicles and people walking.
For more information about the Vision Zero Chicago Action Plan, go to: https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/cdot/supp_info/vision-zero-chicago.html