September 6, 2012

City Releases Chicago’s First-Ever Comprehensive Pedestrian Plan

Plan Identifies Ways to Increase Safety and Make Chicago a Healthier, More Livable City

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the Mayor’s Pedestrian Advisory Council (MPAC) today released the Chicago Pedestrian Plan, the city’s first-ever comprehensive plan that identifies infrastructure enhancements, policies and programs to increase safety, reduce pedestrian and vehicle conflicts, and make Chicago a healthier, more livable city.

“Chicagoans choose to walk because the experience is the safest, most connected, accessible and enjoyable,” said CDOT Commissioner Gabe Klein.  “This Plan demonstrates  Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s commitment to fostering a strong pedestrian environment as an essential part of our complete transportation system.”

The 114-page document contains 250 recommendations, goals and action items, with short-, mid- and long-term agendas.  

It identifies specific infrastructure treatments – from improved crosswalks and signalization to traffic-calming devices like “road diets,” chicanes and traffic circles.  All of these improvements provide for safer intersections, corridors and neighborhood streets.

The plan identifies new citywide programs and policies to improve pedestrian safety through education, engineering and enforcement.   It also seeks ways to improve  connectivity  by identifying and eliminating gaps and barriers in the pedestrian network and establishing policies that prioritize pedestrian access.

The plan also recommends ways to make Chicago’s streets more livable through increasing the amount, quality and activity within pedestrian space.  It additionally identifies programs, policies, and strategies that will encourage a healthier Chicago by increasing the number and mode share of pedestrian trips for enjoyment, school, work, and daily errands.

The recommendations in the plan were formed with ideas and feedback from hundreds of Chicagoans who participated in seven community meetings across Chicago, where they shared their experiences as pedestrians and proposed ways of improving the walkability of our neighborhoods.

The MPAC guided the development of the plan.  The council includes members representing a broad spectrum of backgrounds, from health care and enforcement to disability rights and community groups.  It is focused on a wide range of pedestrian issues: safety, public awareness, enforcement, and infrastructure investment.  The MPAC is co-chaired by Klein and Peter Skosey, Vice President, Metropolitan Planning Council.

“The Chicago Pedestrian Plan sets the agenda to design and build safer streets for pedestrians, while encouraging and enforcing safe driving, walking and biking behaviors,” Skosey said. “Not only will it improve the quality of life for Chicagoans, but encourage further development of our workforce from those who want to live in a walkable, transit-friendly city.”

Chicago experiences roughly 3,000 crashes annually between motor vehicles and pedestrians, resulting in an average of 50 deaths each year.   The Chicago Pedestrian Plan reaffirms CDOT’s goals of reducing serious pedestrian injuries by 50 percent every five years and eliminating pedestrian fatalities within ten years.

“Even one life lost is too many, and we must take action to promote pedestrian safety in multiple ways,” Klein said. “Education, engineering and enforcement are critical components to ensure that pedestrians and motorists understand their role and responsibility in public safety.”  

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