Today’s Headlines

  • Divvy Rider Injured on LSD Is a Med Student, Did Not Lose Foot in Crash (DNA)
  • 3 Injured in Wrong-Way Crash on Ohio Feeder (RedEye)
  • 2 Hurt in Hit-and-Run on the Dan Ryan (RedEye)
  • Video Footage Released of October Crash That Killed 3 People on 95th in Oak Lawn (NBC)
  • IL Senate Overrides Quinn’s Veto of Bill to Raise Speed Limit on Tollways (Expired Meter)
  • Most of Chicago’s “Stop for Peds” Signs Have Already Been Replaced (Tribune)
  • CMAP Discusses Its Infrastructure Funding Proposal (Daily Herald)
  • Rosenthal: Uber, Licensed in Chicago Last Week, Has Been Playing Hardball (Tribune)
  • More Lincoln Parkers Discuss the #11 Lincoln Bus Cut (DNA)
  • Bridgeport Merchants Say They’re Panicking Over Halsted Street Closure (DNA)
  • Man Charged After Taking “Extremely Dangerous” Ride on Back of Metra Train (Tribune)
  • Late-Night Car Alarm Malfunction Results in Hilarious Note From Neighbor (DNA)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • From Oberweis: “The Governor’s argument that tollway drivers already exceed the speed limit is a great argument as to why we should increase the current speed limit to 70 mph…”

    Or maybe IDOT should stop planning roads that allow people to wildly exceed the speed limit?

  • Kevin M

    RE: “Stop for Peds” signs article

    Looking further at the revenue and cost…

    “CDOT estimated the cost to install initial and replacement must-stop signs at $265,000 to date.” and “Drivers who fail to stop are pursued by squad cars and issued $120 tickets.” and “Chicago police officers issued 1,933 tickets to drivers who violated the must-stop law during 86 enforcement stings this year”

    So, ostensibly, $232k (or, 88%) of the replacement costs of these signs ($265k) has been paid for by 1933 unlucky law-breaking drivers across 86 different sting events.

  • Fred

    It appears that Divvy riders on limited access roads is an actual problem and not occasional one-off events. Apparently common sense and news stories aren’t enough and its time to start discussing real solutions to the problem. I don’t know what the answer is, but its becoming clear to me that *something* needs to be done.

  • Fred

    I know I’m in the minority on this site, but I just don’t see why drivers shouldn’t be allowed to go as fast as conditions allow on limited access roads. Penalties should be severe for misjudging conditions.

  • Kevin M

    Because not all drivers can be trusted to have the same judgement of what conditions can allow 100% of the time for any context. Driving is mutually-dependent; the rights of individuals must be limited to serve the herd’s interest.

  • Kevin M

    That being said, if the penalty of causing a speed-related crash on a limited access road with unlimited speed limit was that the driver-at-fault would lose their driver’s license for at least a year, I might be open to this. I don’t know how severe of a penalty you had in mind, admittedly.

  • skyrefuge

    Given the list of Today’s Headlines, your post would have been more appropriate if you replaced “Divvy riders on limited access roads” with “automobile drivers going the wrong way on limited access roads”. The wrong-way driver issue is clearly a bigger problem affecting more people, and in a universe of limited resources, that one should be solved before tackling the bike issue (especially since there might be some commonalities in the solutions).

  • CL

    Car alarms should be illegal. It’s ridiculous that someone bumping a vehicle can result in the entire neighborhood being kept awake for hours. At the very least, there should be laws that limit the duration of the alarm to a few minutes.

    When an alarm goes off at 3 a.m. there is at least some tiny chance that it’s mine. But my car is always parked a couple of blocks away (at best), and it doesn’t make sense for me to get dressed, put on my coat, and go outside to find my car — there’s a 99% chance that it’s not my alarm, and if I go outside to check, I’m not going to fall back to sleep at all. So the rational decision is to put in ear plugs and try to fall back to sleep. I assume everyone makes the same calculation, which is why alarms either stop immediately (the driver is right there) or blare for a long time. “I had no idea it was my car!”

    I’ve been thinking of going to the dealer to get my alarm disabled, so that I don’t have to worry about it potentially being my car. But I’m not sure they would agree to do it.

  • Fred

    Yes, that is where the severe penalties come in. I’m not proposing any specifics, just that they be high enough that most people would drive well within their means rather than risk them.

  • I haven’t really thought this all the way through but if drivers didn’t have auto insurance and their personal wealth was vulnerable to seizure in a lawsuit, i wonder if people would drive differently.

    Really, requiring all drivers purchase insurance is huge subsidy to bad drivers since, even with higher premiums, they hardly cover the cost of the damages they cause.

  • Fred

    The difference is, nearly all wrong way drivers are drunk, so wrong way driving is a symptom of the issue of drunk driving. Only 1 of the 3 known highway Divvyers has been intoxicated which indicates that even fully mentally capable riders are having issues. Increasing education/signage/awareness would likely reduce the number of highway riders; it would likely have no effect on wrong-way drunk drivers.

  • BlueFairlane

    I don’t think three reported cases are enough to establish any kind of trend.

  • skyrefuge

    An alarm that continues for more than 4 minutes is already illegal: http://chicagocode.org/9-76-150/

  • BlueFairlane

    I think it’s well established that nobody ever pays any attention to a car alarm, which completely negates the purpose of the alarm. So the obvious solution when one has been going off an enormous amount of time is to go out, bust the window, pop the hood, and disconnect the battery. I will admit, I once got mad enough to do this. It worked very well.

  • Fred

    Car alarms are also pointless and just contribute to the delusion of security. If someone breaks into your car, it is likely to steal something specific. They will smash a window, grab what they want be be gone in a matter of seconds. There’s no reason to abort mission after smashing the window and setting off the alarm if the mission is only 5-10 seconds anyway.

  • skyrefuge

    EVERY type of insurance is a huge subsidy for those who generate payouts vs. those who don’t. That’s essentially the definition of pooled-risk insurance, and is true whether the insurance is mandatory or voluntary.

    This is purely anecdotal, but given how frequently those at fault in crashes are reported to be uninsured, and given that there was a long period where insurance was not mandatory yet there were still plenty of crashes, I’m guessing there isn’t much correlation between being insured and causing crashes. I think “not wanting to die” is still a much stronger motivator for safe driving than “not wanting to lose a bunch of money”.

  • Fred

    Isn’t that how the insurance business model works? Healthy people subsidize sick people, safe drivers subsidize the reckless, 20yo subsidize life insurance for the elderly, etc. The model doesn’t work if you don’t have a group of people paying premiums but not making claims. If the only people with insurance were the ones using it, premiums would have to skyrocket. That’s the reason dental and vision insurance are expensive; everyone who pays for it uses it.

  • CL

    Interesting — I was thinking more that it would be illegal to manufacture and sell a car with an alarm that lasts longer than a few minutes.

    I suppose the law requires everyone with a car registered in Chicago to get their alarms altered somehow, so that they shut off after 4 minutes? I don’t know if that’s even possible — but I want mine to be disabled completely.

  • Yeah but the difference is the health care is something required to live, so the insurance model makes sense.

  • I think “not wanting to die” is still a much stronger motivator for safe driving than “not wanting to lose a bunch of money”.

    I really want to agree with you but, i just can’t find much evidence that people are motivated to drive safer for reasons of, you know, safety. You would think “don’t speed or you may kill yourself or other people” should be a strong enough motivator but it takes something as ridiculous as surveillance cameras and hefty fines to finally get people to slow down.

  • JKM13

    I don’t know – once you have a limited access road, its hard to design it for 55 instead of 70. 70 feels safe because it is, so I don’t have a problem with setting a natural speed limit.

    I prefer we use the same logic Oberweis expressed for implementing the “Idaho Stop” law in the state. This will be a great example to trot out when I get lectured that cyclists should ‘follow the rules of the road’, even in cases where the rules don’t make sense for cyclists.

    After all, drivers failed to follow speed limits, which resulted in the justification for changing the speed limits. Shouldn’t the same apply to stop signs for cyclists?

  • Fred

    Its in everyone’s best interest to have insurance. If you get hit by a wrong-way drunk driver, you want that person to have insurance. In the event they don’t have insurance, you surely want insurance of your own.

    Safe drivers can be the victim of unsafe drivers, so having insurance is still in their best interest.

  • R.A. Stewart

    I was thinking somewhat along these lines this morning, driving up the Edens through this morning’s rain (now changed to snow, oh joy) and noticing how anywhere from a fifth to (in one sizeable clump of vehicles) well over half the drivers didn’t have their lights on. This was in addition to the usual not using turn signals, driving slowly in the fast lane, passing on the right when the lane *was* clear to pass on the left, and so on.

    I’m sure that for a very large majority of us on that road, driving is by far the most dangerous activity we’ll do on a typical day, the one where we have our own and others’ lives and physical well-being most directly in our hands, and the one most likely to bring us into contact with the police. You’d think that would be a motivation to use a little common sense, and maybe even do a quick review of the rules of the road every couple of years, wouldn’t you? Apparently not.

  • BlueFairlane

    I think the problem here is understanding the way other people do risk assessment. Most people are extremely confident in their driving ability, so they don’t see something as simple as speeding as that great a risk. The typical thought process is “I’ve driven over the speed limit since I turned 16, and I’m still alive.” (The obvious downside of this human tendency is that those who can’t say this are dead.) Install speed cameras, though, and people realize that there is a much greater probability that they’ll get a ticket than that they’ll die.

    That’s the problem with the uninsured. They don’t think the statistics are going to affect them, because they’re better than that. They don’t have to worry about insurance, because they’re not going to have a wreck.

  • R.A. Stewart

    I think you’re right about that.

  • Anne A

    That’s an awfully small sample size, a tiny fraction of the number of wrong-way drivers.

  • SP_Disqus

    I definitely agree. At the very least, they can put up a sign that has a bike crossed out at all entrances to non-bike roadways. If they want bicyclists to treat the city as a place where bikes are welcome on 99% of available streets, they should do a good job of designating the few streets that are off limits. The negative effects of these incidents aren’t limited to the physical damage and mental trauma caused to the individuals involved; they also further the perception that urban biking is dangerous and intimidating.

  • It is a trend. I haven’t heard of any reports of non-Divvy cyclists doing this in the last five years. Assuming all other cyclist are exposed to the risk of entering a highway per unit time as Divvy riders, the probability of 3 in 1 year and zero in 5 years being compatible rates is around 1 in 600.

    There’s something in the design of our highways which is causing these problems. Has there been any follow on interview or video showing how these people cycled onto the highways? Is the time pressure of returning a Divvy bike to an unknown station location causing poor judgment while navigating? Is it people who are unfamiliar with the city finding themselves unable to navigate by bike? What design feature of our wayfinding system is putting cyclists at risk?

  • BlueFairlane

    At least 2.5 million trips have been made on Divvy. We know of only three that have resulted in somebody winding up on a limited access highway. That’s something south of 0.00012% of all Divvy rides. That’s an extremely weak trend. The trend you identify isn’t so much “more people are biking on the Drive” as it is “I’m hearing about this thing I don’t remember hearing about, and because I’m paying attention to it, the numbers seem inordinately large.”

  • skyrefuge

    That’s a crack scientific operation you’re running there. Here’s a non-Divvy bike on an expressway: http://voices.suntimes.com/news/breaking-news/police-escort-cyclist-off-kennedy-expressway-during-rush-hour-commute/ Another Streetsblog commenter has previously admitting to riding on a section of the Kennedy as well. Your data isn’t looking so obvious now.

    But forget Divvy bikes, what should we do about this black comedian problem? I haven’t heard any reports of non-black comedians being accused of sexual assault. There’s something in the soul of black comedians causing these problems. Has there been any psychological analysis of black comedians? Is the pressure of succeeding in a white-dominated country causing poor judgement? Let’s form a commission to solve this blatantly obvious problem!!

  • Low rate high consequence problems are important to keep track of. After all, car crashes on highways only happen once every million miles. If competent people are at risk of getting killed, let’s take a look at if we can fix the problem.

    Skyrefuge thank you for linking that story. I was not aware of other cyclists ending up inadvertently on local highways recently. That dramatically decreases the probability that there’s something correlated with Divvy bikes use that’s causing this.

  • This sort of situation is why I trained myself to drive like a Canadian (in Canada, if the car is in motion your headlights need to be on). I get in the car, check my mirrors, fasten my belt, turn on the headlights. Turn ’em off when the key comes out.

  • David Altenburg

    I’ve heard multiple first-hand accounts from experienced non-Divvy riders who have found themselves on limited-access highways and have had to figure out how to safely reach an exit. Chicago’s a big city, and there’s a lot of stuff that happens that doesn’t get reported.

    I agree that it would be worthwhile to try to find out how people were led to get onto the highways.

  • David Altenburg

    If the “Stop for Peds” signs are as important as CDOT seems to claim – and I believe they are – they should be funded with something other than menu funds. If Chicago is serious about eliminating pedestrian fatalities, it should put its money where its mouth is and prioritize solutions based on effectiveness, rather than the whims of each alderman.

    There’s something fundamentally unfair about making each ward responsible for funding the pedestrian signs (as well as other safety measures) because they are often most necessary on streets that people not from the neighborhood (and often, not from the city) use to drive through. We are, in effect, asking each ward to choose how much money to spend to protect its own residents from the drivers who come from all over the city.

  • So should pavement striping, which right now is done (a) when it’s repaved, or (b) when an alderman decides to pay for it.

    There should be an annual budget line in the main city budget for Streets & San for “street safety marking maintenance,” for paint and signs and all the other things getting put into use with these new road diets and street-scapings.

  • Except the money goes into a different pot. Signs are paid for out of each alderman’s menu funds. I’m not sure where the traffic violations go, but I know it doesn’t go (directly) there.

  • I don’t see why roads shouldn’t be designed to encourage drivers to limit their speed to a maximum that is safe (instead of being designed 20mph faster than that).

  • Fred

    70 is safe. I don’t see why drivers should be artificially limited to lower than the safe design speed of the road.