Today’s Headlines

  • Green Lane Project Rates Dearborn, Milwaukee Among Nation’s Top 10 PBLs (Sun-Times)
  • CTA Touts Shorter Ventra Tap Times, Call Center Waits (Sun-Times, NBC)
  • Despite Ventra Snafus, Emanuel Says He Has Claypool’s Back (Sun-Times, DNA)
  • Fatal New York Crash May Force Metra to Implement Safety System Sooner (Tribune)
  • Nine People Injured in Avalon Park Pileup (DNA)
  • Driver Crashes Into Rogers Park Nursing Home, Abandons Car (Sun-Times)
  • Contractor Fined $7K for Red Line Worker’s Heat Stroke Death (Tribune)
  • Settlement for Bicyclist Doored on Belmont This Summer (Keating)
  • Pretzel Logic: Drivers Ignore Speed Limits, So That Means They’re Too Low (Expired Meter)
  • Oak Park Passes Helmet Law for Kids (Tribune)
  • A Guide to Winter Riding for Beginners (Tiny Fix)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • CL

    “of the 521 vehicles observed, only 21 were in compliance with the 55 mph speed limit” Yeah, something is wrong with the law when only 4% of the population obeys. It shouldn’t be the only reason to change a law, but I think it tells you something, unless we think 96% of our fellow citizens are bad, reckless people.

    70 mph is perfect for most interstate roads — they recently raised it on the Ohio turnpike, and it’s amazing how much better the drive is now. There is a lot less passing. Although, 70 would probably be too fast for the roads that go through Chicago, like the Dan Ryan.

  • Anne A

    70 may make perfect sense for wide open areas outside of city limits where there’s some distance between interchanges. In congested areas (all expressways within Chicago, where distance between interchanges can be 1/2 mile or less), a lower speed limit makes more sense to allow enough reaction time for merging and crossing lines of traffic.

  • It also means people will speed less on the city’s streets. When drivers exit a freeway they’ve been driving 70mph on, they end up going faster on the city streets afterwards. It just doesn’t feel “natural” to be going 40mph slower after driving that fast. That’s why the 55 limit needs to remain.

    I’m still not happy with the “if they’re not following the law, we need to change it” logic. Because if only 4% of cyclists were stopping at stop signs, there would certainly be no call to change the law – but the newspapers would certainly tell cyclists to “follow the rules.”

  • Jennifer

    And some huge majority of cyclists blow stop signs. Can’t have it both ways.

  • What it tells me is that nobody’s been enforcing speed limits on any of Chicago’s highways for over a decade, so people have decided it’s not a rule anymore … same thing for blown headlights and other car-maintenance safety issues. There isn’t (or is thought not to be) the manpower, so nobody enforces big swaths of the law, so scofflaw behavior goes up.

    No surprise.

  • CL

    Trying to have it both ways would be, what, advocating stop sign cameras for cyclists? I’m not! If they want to change the law so that cyclists only have to yield, that’s fine with me. I think the same principle applies — when so many people ignore the law, something is gong on besides people being reckless.

    Just yesterday I was almost hit (on foot) by a cyclist blowing a stop sign. I felt the whoosh of air as he passed me — he was that close. I’d settle for them yielding when someone is in their path — if they want to change the law so that they can keep going when the intersection is empty, that’s fine with me.

  • Ryan Wallace

    Repost of my comment on Expired Meter article:

    While it is true that most interstates and tollways could have their speed limits raised to match the 85% percentile speed, the fact that so many people exceed the posted speed limit is indicative of the long term problem we have with our roads: the design standards we use to build roads are far too conservative, and promote users to travel faster than the “design” speed. Excessive speeding doesn’t have just one solution (to raise the speed limit), it has many. The best of which is to go back to the drawing board and rethink the way we design roads. Several commenters refer to LSD and the excessive speeding that occurs on that street is a great example. Just because the road was originally improperly designed and allows drivers to comfortable travel at 60 mph doesn’t mean that is what the the speed limit should be, it means the designers messed up and were overly conservative with their design. Instead of being reactive to improper designs and changing the speed limit ex post facto, we should be proactive and get the design right the first time. Expect the new LSD to be PROPERLY designed for a speed limit somewhere around 35mph. – See more at: http://theexpiredmeter.com/2013/12/opinion-illinois-tollway-speed-limits-dangerously-low/#sthash.yk9Cu1Tn.dpuf

  • CL

    I can’t seem to find your comment at the Expired Meter, so maybe you addressed this — but I’m not sure why you want us to redesign roads so that they are slower? If our current interstates allow drivers to safely go fast, that’s good — it’s efficient. Your approach would make trips take a lot longer, for little benefit (as redesigning interstates so that going above 55 felt dangerous would just mean making crashes more likely at 55 than they are now — more narrow lanes, etc)

    Right now, Lake Shore Drive is the only efficient way to get from North Side to South Side. The travel time is easily 30 minutes faster than any other route. It’s so much faster than arteries and 94 that Google Maps frequently suggests driving east for 20 minutes, taking Lake Shore, and then driving west for 20 minutes. And there are no bikes or pedestrians, so drivers aren’t hitting people — why on earth would you want to make it 35? LSD is the best road we have — if we allow people to go 50 and enforce it, even better. But 35 would ruin it.

  • Ryan Wallace

    First, The Expired Meter moderates its comments, which means I believe someone has to “approve” my comment before its published. My guess this is so the only dissenting opinions that are actually published are often the weakest arguments such that the regulars can pick them apart.

    Second, generally my approach to redesign likely does not apply to most rural interstates/highways/tollways, but probably does to urban ones; and definitely applies to arterials and collectors.

    Third, specifically on LSD, moving at a consistent speed is more efficient and safer than having a goal of high speeds. The length of LSD to be redesigned is 7.5 miles. If vehicles could travel a consistent 35 mph that’s 12.9 minutes, at 50 mph its 9 minutes. I wouldn’t say 3.9 minutes doesn’t ruin it.

  • CL

    4 minutes isn’t a big deal if I could go 35 the entire time — but doesn’t a 35 mph speed limit mean that things will get way more backed up when there is congestion? Because cars will be on the road longer, meaning more total cars at rush hour — I don’t know the exact science of how it works, but I know that people slow down when it rains, and just that causes traffic to come to a standstill on 94 and much of LSD

  • Ryan Wallace

    If [1] the ramps/intersections/interchanges are properly improved and [2][probably more importantly] improvements are made to mass transit and biking (that get people to change modes away from cars) then congestion should RARELY be a factor.

  • CL

    Have you driven on LSD during rush hour? Congestion is going to be a factor during rush hour for a very long time, regardless of what improvements are made to transit and biking.