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Cynthia Tatman, 56, Fatally Struck While Jogging on Broad Stretch of Devon

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The 6300 block of West Devon, looking west, from the drivers’ perspective. Image: Google Street View

56-year-old Cynthia Tatman was fatally struck early Tuesday morning while jogging in the Norwood Park neighborhood on a four-lane stretch of Devon Avenue where high-speed driving is common.

At around 7:05 a.m., Tatman was running east in the westbound lanes on the 6300 block of West Devon Avenue, police said. She lived on the 5800 block of North Navarre Avenue, 0.8 miles southwest, and neighbors told ABC it appeared she jogged this route regularly.

According to investigators, a westbound driver swerved to avoid hitting Taman. However, they said the next motorist, driving a tan Honda CR-V SUV, did not have time to avoid the jogger and struck her. Chatman was transported to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital and pronounced dead.

The driver, whose SUV sustained front-end damage and a smashed windshield, stayed on the scene and was not immediately cited. Major Accidents is currently working to determine if the motorist will receive a citation, according to Police News Affairs.

News reports have focused on the question of why Tatman was running in the street when it’s possible to take the nearby, car-free North Branch Trail to avoid the stretch of Devon between Nagle and Central avenues. One reason may have been that the path is indirect – while it closely parallels Devon near Central, further west it arches about a half mile north before returning south to Devon at Nagle. It’s possible the jogger was only planning to run on a short stretch of Devon before returning home on side streets.

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Mother of Fallen Cyclist Hector Avalos: Catholic School Should Lift Biking Ban

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Sign outside of Annunicata Catholic School. Photo: Ingrid Cossio

There are many reasons why biking to school is beneficial to children, and for society in general. It provides physical activity, which is obviously key for good health and has been shown to improve performance in the classroom. It also helps with the traffic safety, congestion, and pollution issues associated with the widespread use of private cars to take children to school. That’s why the city of Chicago has generally encouraged biking to the public schools by installing bike racks and bike lanes, and through bike education initiatives like the city’s Bicycling Ambassadors.

However, it turns out that some local Catholic schools don’t just fail to promote biking to school but actually ban cycling. Yesterday Ingrid Cossio, mother of fallen cyclist Hector Avalos, posted on the Slow Roll Chicago Facebook page a letter from the principal of Annunciata School, 3750 East 112th Street in the East Side neighborhood, notifying her that school policy forbids students from biking to school. The school serves preschool through eighth grade students, and Hector’s twin younger sister and brother Brandy and Brandon, aged ten, attend the school.

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Ingrid Cossio with her twins Brandy and Brandon. Photo: Facebook

In 2013 Hector, 28, a former Marine and aspiring chef who enjoyed gardening, camping and fishing, was fatally struck by a drunk driver while bicycling. The motorist was sentenced to only 100 days in prison.

“My kids are always talking about Hector,” Cossio told me. “My son wants to be like him. So when school started up this year, they said, ‘Why don’t we bike to school?'”

In the wake of Hector’s death, Cossio said she is concerned about drunk, reckless, and distracted drivers. “Safety is my number-one worry,” she said. However, the family lives only seven blocks from the school, so she decided to ride with the twins to school on Monday, the first day. The children rode on the sidewalk.

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The letter from the principal. Click to enlarge.

“They really enjoyed it,” Cossio said. “It’s exercise, so when they got to school they were more alert and ready to learn.” They rode again on Tuesday, when a couple of teachers told Cossio they thought it was great the kids were exercising, and that they thought other children should ride to school as well. On both days Cossio locked the twins’ bikes on a pole on the sidewalk in front of the school.

However, on Tuesday evening Cossio’s daughter was given a letter from principal Edward A. Renas to take home. “Due to insurance policies, student safety, and concern for private property, students are not allowed to ride bicycles to school,” wrote Renas.

He cited an excerpt from the school handbook which states: “Bicycles, skateboards, scooters, and roller blades may not be brought to school property… The school is not responsible for any damages or theft of any equipment on school property.” Renas added that a sign stating the policy is posted by the main entrance of the school.

“Just taking my twins to school,” Cossio posted on the Slow Roll Facebook page. “Is this right?… I want my kids to exercise, to enjoy nature.”

After I called the school for more information on the bike ban, I heard from Anne Maselli, spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic Schools, which runs 217 schools in the region. Maselli explained that the archdiocese doesn’t have a set policy on whether biking to school should be encouraged, but instead leaves it up to the local school administrators. “I’m sure some other [of our Catholic] schools have the same or similar policies.”

Maselli guessed that Annuciation’s bike ban may be largely inspired by a desire to avoid liability in case of bike theft, but said concerns about traffic safety are also likely an issue. While 112th Street is a wide four-lane street, the school can also be accessed by quiet side streets, and a crossing guard is stationed on 112th during commute times.

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Streetsblog.net
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The Stress of Navigating Unwalkable Bus Stops With a Wheelchair

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How is a person who uses a wheelchair supposed to access this bus stop? Photo: Urban Review STL

Pedestrian access to transit is important. A recent study by TransitCenter found that people who use transit most often tend to walk to the bus or train. But as our “Sorriest Bus Stop in America” contest highlighted, there are some very serious challenges on this front in American cities.

The problem of lousy walking access to transit is compounded for riders with disabilities. In a recent post, Steve Patterson at Network blog Urban Review STL offers a personal account of the obstacles he faces navigating the bus system in St. Louis using a power wheelchair:

Part of the implied contract when taking a bus to a destination is when you’re dropped off at your stop, you’ll be able to get to the corresponding stop in the opposite direction for the return trip. Seems simple enough, right? But in many parts of the St. Louis region being able to reach a bus stop in the opposite direction is impossible if you’re disabled. I don’t go looking for them, I run across them just going about my life.

Patterson recently took the bus down Manchester Avenue to a shopping center, only to find himself nearly stranded, trying to reach the stop shown in the above photo. Two and a half decades after the Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted, these are the conditions for transit riders using wheelchairs in St. Louis:

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Today’s Headlines for Wednesday, August 24

  • Cynthia Tatman, 56, Fatally Struck While Jogging on Devon Near Caldwell Woods (ABC)
  • The Tribune Looks at Factors Behind Nationwide Increase in Traffic Deaths
  • Listener Comments on Yasmeen Schuller’s & John’s Discussion of Bike Safety (WBEZ)
  • The CTA Gets Read for TOD-Driven Increases in Ridership Along Blue Line (DNA)
  • Loyola Students Convert Cooking Oil to Biodiesel to Fuel Campus Buses (DNA)
  • “Cycle for Life” Raises Money for Cyctic Fibrosis Research (Tribune)
  • “Yarnbombers” Using Knitting for Placemaking — Including Bike Rack Cosies (DNA)
  • Support the Reboot of the Lincoln Bus With the 11 on 11 Pub Ride This Friday (LCPC)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Tweets Spur CDOT to Shut Down Illegal Construction in Dearborn Bike Lane

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The construction work blocked the Dearborn bike lane as well as a crosswalk. Photo Kevin Zolkewicz

Yesterday Twitter users notified the Chicago Department of Transportation about an unpermitted closure of the Dearborn Street two-way protected bike lane and a crosswalk. To their credit, CDOT acted swiftly to shut down the illegal blockage at Randolph Street, caused by contractors working for SBC Communications.

The bike lane is one of the city’s busiest and most important because it’s the only bikeway for southbound cyclists within the Loop. Blocking the two-way lane was particularly problematic for southbound cyclists, because they didn’t have the option of merging into northbound travel lanes to get around the work site.

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Looking south on Dearborn towards Randolph. Photo: Kevin Zolkiewicz

Cyclists who encountered the blockage yesterday morning tweeted about the problem using the #bikeCHI hashtag yesterday morning. Streetsblog reader Kevin Zolkiewicz also sent us photos of the situation, which I forwarded to CDOT. According to a CDOT staffer, the department learned about the issue via the tweets and sent an inspector to the site .

According to CDOT spokesman Mike Claffey, an electrical contractor had obtained a permit but “did not state that they would be working in the bike lane or blocking the bike lane.” The inspector shut down the work immediately, by 1:30 p.m., and ordered the crew to clear all equipment. Claffey said that the contractor Archon Construction, working for SBC Communications, was cited and wouldn’t be allowed to resume work until they provide a traffic maintenance plan.

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Mayya Medovaya, 78, Fatally Struck by Turning UPS Truck Driver in North Park

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The crash site from the driver’s perspective, looking south. Image: Google Street View

A UPS truck driver who was making a right on red fatally struck a senior Monday afternoon in the North Park community, according to police.

At around 4:45 p.m., the 78-year-old woman was crossing the street at Peterson and Central Park in a crosswalk when the 64-year-old male driver made a right turn on red and struck her, according to Police News Affairs. The victim was taken to Swedish Covenant Hospital in critical condition, where she was soon pronounced dead.

The Cook County medical examiner’s office has identified the woman as Mayya Medovaya of the 5800 block of north Pulaski, about six blocks from the crash site. She was the fifth vulnerable road user to be fatally struck by a commercial vehicle in Chicago in about nine weeks.

The UPS driver was cited for failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, according to News Affairs.

The police crash report stated that the driver had been heading west on Peterson and made a northbound right turn onto Central Park. However, photos of the truck parked at the north side of Peterson, just west of Central Park, following the crash, posted by several news outlets, plus a report by WGN, indicate that wasn’t the case.

The WGN reporter stated that Medovaya was walking south across the west leg of the intersection when she was struck, which would be in keeping with the final location of the truck. Therefore, it appears that the driver was also heading south on Central Park and made a right turn, westbound, onto Peterson when he struck the victim.

Witness Micheal Weldler told WGN that traffic on Peterson had the green at the time, which would mean both the pedestrian and the driver had a red light. It appears that right turns on red are legal at this location.

However, even if Medovaya was crossing against the light, that has limited relevance to this case. Even when both the driver and pedestrian have a green, it’s all-too-common for right-turning motorists to carelessly strike pedestrians in crosswalks. Moreover, a driver turning right on red is still responsible for ensuring that the relevant crosswalks are clear before making the turn.

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Streetsblog.net
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Earth to U.S. DOT: Streets Succeed When They Do More Than Move Cars

Will U.S. DOT encourage projects like the one on the left or the one on the right? Image: Transportation for America

Will U.S. DOT encourage urban streets like the one on the right to be designed like highways like the one on the left? Image: Transportation for America

What makes a street successful?

Does a street succeed when it’s economically productive, when it helps reduce carbon emissions, and when people can conveniently and safely get around using a variety of transportation modes, regardless of age, ability, or social status? Or does success boil down to moving as many cars as fast as possible?

The way public agencies answer these questions goes a long way toward determining what sort of streets our cities end up with. And that’s what’s at stake as U.S. DOT grapples with the question of how American transportation agencies should measure their performance. Unfortunately, the feds released a draft rule a few months ago that still emphasized the movement of cars above all.

Today Stephen Lee Davis at Transportation for America reports that local agencies and advocates from around the country have demanded a better standard from U.S. DOT — one that won’t subordinate people and cities to the movement of cars:

To develop a stronger alternative measure to submit to USDOT, SGA convened a working group of more than 30 local elected officials, state DOTs, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) and transit agencies, and national and state trade groups and advocacy organizations.

This work was supported by numerous state DOTs, MPOs, transit agencies and advocacy organizations; Oregon Metro (Portland) and Indy MPO; Trimet; Metro Atlanta Chamber and Indy Chamber; and the Transportation Equity Caucus, League of American Bicyclists, Safe Routes to School National Partnership, People for Bikes, PolicyLink, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Center for Neighborhood Technology and many others.

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Today’s Headlines for Tuesday, August 23

  • UPS Driver Killed 78-Year-Old Woman at Peterson/Central Park (WGN)
  • Active Trans Will Highlight Need for Vision Zero With Stories About Crashes
  • Active Trans Launches E-Newsletters Focusing on Different Parts of City & Region
  • Sometimes CTA & Metra Delays Are Caused By Issues Beyond the Agencies’ Control (RedEye)
  • New Bike Lanes Coming to Polk, Plymouth & 9th; Harrison Getting Concrete (DNA)
  • Edgebrook Residents Hope N. Branch Trail Extension Will Spur Economic Investment (DNA)
  • Was the 2016 Olympics a Missed Opportunity for Chicago? (Crain’s)
  • SlutWalk Participants Step Out to Protest Sexual Harassment and Assault (Chicagoist)
  • Critical Mass for Insomniacs: Meet Chicago’s Monday Night Ride (DNA)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Take a Virtual Spin on the (Partly Finished) Elston Curb-Protected Bike Lanes

As I’ve written, it’s a shame that the valuable riverfront land at the southeast corner of Fullerton and Damen will likely be redeveloped as big box retail with tons of parking in the aftermath of a project to reroute Elston Avenue so it bypasses that intersection. The silver lining of the project is that this new, curving five-lane stretch of Elston, which opened to motorized traffic last week, will have curb-protected bike lanes.

Prior to construction, the six-way Fullerton/Damen/Elston intersection saw about 70,000 motor vehicles per day, and consistently ranked among the city’s top-five intersections for crashes, according to the Chicago Department of Transportation, which is doing the $36.3 million street relocation. In an effort to unclog the intersection, they’ve moved through traffic on Elston about a block east on land occupied by WhirlyBall, which relocated to a nearby, larger space at 1823 West Webster, and the Vienna Beef factory, which will soon be moving to 1800 West Pershing in Bridgeport.

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Elston, which formerly intersected with Fullerton and Damen, has been relocated one block east. Image: CDOT

The entire bypass project was supposed wrap up this spring, but according to CDOT spokeswoman Sue Hofer, it’s currently not slated for completion until this December. But starting last week northeast- and southeast-bound motorized vehicles began using one lane in each direction on the new section of Elston, which crosses Damen a block north of Fullerton/Damen intersection.

The old, two-block stretch of Elston just southeast of Fullerton/Damen remains open for local traffic under the new name Elston Court. Under the new traffic pattern, vehicles are allowed to turn right from eastbound Fullerton onto Elston Court, but vehicles from northbound Elston Court south of Fullerton are only permitted to turn right, eastbound, on Fullerton.

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Streetsblog USA
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Stark Divisions Between Dems and GOP on Climate Impacts of Transportation

How polarized are the two political parties on key questions about transportation policy and climate change? As you can imagine, the answer is “very.”

Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer (CA), ranking member of the Committee on the Environment and Public Works. Photo: Wikipedia

California Senator Barbara Boxer. Photo: Wikipedia

The senior Democrat and Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee — California’s Barbara Boxer and Oklahoma’s Jim Inhofe, respectively — each wrote an opinion this week for the Eno Center for Transportation about a proposed federal rule to require state DOTs to measure their impact on greenhouse gas emissions.

Boxer is the ranking Democratic member of the committee. Her column applauds the move to measure the climate impacts of state and regional transportation policy:

Establishment of a performance measure for carbon pollution is critically needed now. Since 1970, carbon emissions produced by the transportation sector have more than doubled, increasing at a faster rate than any other end-use sector. By requiring transportation agencies to track carbon emissions, we can evaluate whether transportation investments are effective in meeting the goal of protecting the environment.

Senator Jim Inhofe (OK) is chair of the Committee on the Environment and Public Works. Photo: Gage Skidmore

Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe. Photo: Gage Skidmore

Meanwhile, Committee Chair Inhofe challenged the legitimacy of the rule:

The goal of the laws I co-authored is to improve the safety and advance the modernization of our roads and bridges. FHWA’s proposed GHG regulation would divert the limited time and resources of States and local governments away from this goal to pursue instead the administration’s unlawful and overzealous climate agenda.

Yes, the “overzealous agenda” of transparently documenting how much carbon pollution is caused by billions of dollars of spending on transportation.

FHWA regulators will be wading through these kinds and many other comments in the coming months as they produce a rule that may or may not require states and regional planning agencies to finally measure their impact on the climate.