Epidemic of mindless driving 3,000 pound bombs on Rockwell addressed by Logan Square residents in Moreno's office

Date: 
08/15/2014
KWeaver

Keith Weaver explains why it is important to look beyond the site of the incident when planning solutions

The death of Logan Square's Jose Media and safety of children going to and from Goethe School, 2236 North Rockwell St., prompted a meeting on Thurs., Aug. 14, at 1st Ward Alderman Proco "Joe" Moreno's office regarding traffic on Rockwell St.

MichelleT

Michelle Taufman

"It seems as though there is an epidemic of mindless driving," Michelle Taufmann, resident and parent, commented before the meeting. At the meeting, Chicago Department of Transportation's (CDOT) Keith Weaver said that aggressive people are driving 3,000 pound bombs but CDOT's Traffic Calming Program (TCP) can help solve the problems. 

With several distraught neighbors frustrated with people's bad driving behavior and attitudes, Weaver was challenged to present the solutions.  Using a map showing Rockwell from south of Fullerton down to Milwaukee and the intersection with Lyndale showed the whole network of streets in the area, though some wanted to concentrate only at the site of the incident. 

The facts of the area are: 

  • Rockwell is a short cut for people to cut from Fullerton to Milwaukee
  • Drivers are blowing through stop signs
  • Drivers are speeding down Rockwell despite two speed bumps
  • Drivers, including parents, are driving with disregard to school buses
  • Parents are double parking for student drop offs and pickups 
RockwellatLyndale

On Rockwell looking south at Lyndale

Stressing that solutions are tailored to each situation, Weaver explained that the TCP arsenal of tools includes: 

  • Street speed humps
  • Alley speed humps
  • Curb bump-outs
  • Traffic Circles
  • Cul-de-sacs  

While much discussion about traffic was focused on school hours at Goethe Elementary School, 2236 N Rockwell St,, it was also made clear by many that speeding is a 24-hour problem. 

Weaver said that he studied the area to see if he could find a pattern of incidents that would account for the fatal death of Medina. "There was only one report on this incident but no other police reports showed any other incidents. In my 20 years with this program, I have never seen a fatality caused by someone driving in reverse down a street. And there were no other reports showing any traffic problems there." 

WACParents

Neighbor explained that he lives close by and has seen many people blow through stop signs

Citizen responsibility
While many people in the room gave accounts of many different incidents they saw or were involved with, they all said, after being questioned, that they did not make a police report. 

Officer Janashley DeJesus of the Chicago Police Department's  (CPD) 14th District encouraged everyone to make a 911 call. "If there is an incident or someone is not following the rules. We will come and write a citation. Call 911." 

Citations are what populate the reports that Weaver and CPD use to make their decisions, whether it is for placement of traffic abatement tools or officer deployment. 

City solutions
Several neighbors repeatedly requested that a speed bump be added to the street close to the stoplight at Fullerton. Weaver explained that there are national guidelines for placement of all the tools that they use. "Placing a speed bump closer to the stoplight is against those guidelines." 

Using the map he created, which showed locations for possible implementations of some of the traffic tools, He emphasized that the reality is that people have become more aggressive and vehicles have become bigger and faster. To illustrate that he said that today's cars are more powerful than racing cars of a few years ago.

RWGrp

Many attendees expressed their opinions

Weaver explained determining a solution requires looking beyond where the incident occurred. Cutting down the speed of drivers, in this case, is one challenge. 

Curb bump outs narrow a street, in this case from 30 feet down to 14 or 15 feet, giving drivers a different environment. It cuts down on the feeling that there is a big open stretch and that often slows them down. 

Those bump outs include space for vegetation. The City will contract with neighbors to maintain the plantings and the City guarantees to provide the plant materials. That "softens" the concrete structure and the space looks pretty, which helps change behavior said Weaver. 

Alderman Moreno, stepped into the discussion to offer other alternatives that are not part of the TCP offerings. He pointed out  that red -light cameras and speed cameras, are other tools. However, he warned, they are not popular. "Many people do not like cameras, but they can be successful. They have worked well around Clemente Community Academy, 1147 N Western Ave,, in the Ukrainian Village." 

BKardas

Barbara Kardas

School solutions
Barbara Kardas, Principal of Goethe, said that the school will be reaching out to the parents to educate them about what is happening and the "rules of road." In addition she said, that they are investigating the implementation of a "Kiss and go" program. 

LaSalle II Elementary School, 1148 N. Honore St., in East Village, began a program in 2009 and it is very successful, according to Ronda Locke, Local School Council Chair and Infrastructure Committee Co-Chair. 

Run completely by volunteers, the Parent Teacher Organization's (PTO) drop off program is to insure kids are delivered safely to the school. Most of the 500 students use the drop off program which has a volunteer at the curb, who opens the door and the student is ready with their backpack to immediately exit the car. 

This makes traffic flow more quickly and eliminates double parking. "Of course, there will always be some who do not follow the rules, but we have about 90% cooperation," said Locke.

JMoreno

Moreno listens to residents

Next steps
Moreno is to check on the camera solutions and Weaver is going to continue to do some more investigating and look at options. 

"Don't worry, I will find the money we need," Moreno said, assuring everyone that he will find the money to do whatever is needed to fulfill the agreed on decisions.  

With the new school year starting, Kardas will pursue education and working with parents on the possibility of creating a "Kiss and Go" program.

Response
One resident is eager to have Weaver to use her home to view what goes on along the street and he said he would take her up on her offer.

Taufman appeared hopeful, "I'm happy. I feel that if we have the bump outs, they have been tested and they have evidence they work. And, the cameras would start at Fullerton."

memorial

A memorial still remains as a tribute to Jose Medina

Fatality
Jose Medina, who lived in the 2200 block of N. Rockwell  St., was struck near  the intersection of Lyndale in the 2100 block between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m on Fri., May 24, and was pronounced dead at approximately 7 p.m. at Advocate Illinois Masonic Hospital. His death was attributed to multiple injuries from being struck by a vehicle which was going in reverse down the street. 

The vehicle was driven by a 51-year-old man who was driving in reverse down the street. The offender did stay at the scene and was given two citations.

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