Palmer Square residents who want to see the city install raised raised crosswalks by the park greatly outnumber opponents, according to numbers provided by both sides.
Earlier this month, Streetsblog Chicago detailed how neighbors have been campaigning to convert the two marked, mid-block crosswalks on the north side of the park to raised crosswalks. Contrary to what was reported in an earlier DNAinfo article, the speed tables would be a relatively inexpensive $20,000 each, and the Chicago Department of Transportation supports the proposal. According to local alderman Scott Waguespack’s chief of staff Paul Sajovec, Waguespack also has no problem with the proposal – except that a few residents have repeatedly contacted him to oppose the idea.
Andrea Keller, whose young family lives near one of the mid-block crosswalks, recently launched an online petition calling for the raised crosswalks as a strategy to calm traffic next to the park and make crossing safer. Using a speed gun during for three 15-minute observations during a recent evening rush, Streetsblog writer Steven Vance and contributor Justin Haugens found that 75 percent of motorists were speeding. So far 60 people have signed the online petition.
Keller’s husband Rudy wrote me to thank Streetsblog for drawing attention to the issue, and for clearing up misconceptions about the proposal. However, he argued that we actually underrepresented the support for the safety improvements. Andrea and other organizers also received over 100 signatures on a written petition they circulated in summer of 2013, he said.
“The ratio of people signing the petition, versus people rejecting it, was overwhelmingly in favor of implementing the raised crosswalks,” Rudy wrote. He claimed that a small, vocal minority of people on the block “have been very aggressive in their opposition, and have been able to use their influence with Alderman Waguespack to stop (for now, at least) this worthwhile proposal.”
Rudy Keller added that, at a February 2014 meeting of the Homeowners Association of Palmer Square, only two attendees opposed the speed tables. Earlier this month, roughly 30 people at a meeting of Logan Square Preservation voted to endorse the raised crosswalk proposal, according to president Andrew Schneider.
One of the leaders of the opposition is Corrine Bradley, who told me she dropped off paper surveys at every household on the north side of the park, and that most of the responses she received were against the speed tables. She didn’t have that number handy, but confirmed that it was under 20. Rudy Keller and his neighbor Steve Hier, who has also been advocating for the speed tables for years, both told me the total number of opponents is six or fewer.
Bradley, who lives near the northeast corner of the park, wrote a letter to Waguespack arguing that raised crosswalks would delay first responders, form an obstacle to bicyclists, and create constant noise as motor vehicles pass over them. Sajovec told me he suspected that some of the neighbors don’t understand the difference between speed humps and speed tables. While the former are commonplace on Chicago side streets and are several inches tall, speed tables are only two or three inches high, with a very shallow trapezoidal cross-section that has a minimal impact on emergency vehicles, cyclists, and noise levels.