Today’s Headlines for Thursday, April 30

  • Active Trans: Show Up for IDOT Listening Sessions & Fill Out Survey to Fight Proposed Transit Cuts
  • Wheel-Catching Grates in Bike Lanes Are Still an Issue, But the City Won’t Fix Them (Kevenides)
  • Richard Dent Is the Latest of Many Ex-Bears Busted for Dangerous Driving on the Edens (DNA)
  • Next City Heralds the Recent Divvy Bike-Share Developments
  • Ald. Sawyer Has a Wait-and-See Attitude About Whether Divvy Will Succed in Englewood (DNA)
  • Pullman Monument Might Get Rehabbed Metra Station With Rail Car Used as a Shelter (Tribune)
  • CTA Holding Hearing on Red/Purple Rehab May 14 at Broadway Armory (DNA)
  • Metra, Maybe Other Transit Agencies, Holding Job Fair in Schaumburg on May 14 (Tribune)
  • Lakeview Chamber, Merchants Will Give Away Prizes to Bike Commuters in “Ride & Seek” Promotion
  • MPC Holds a Ribbon Cutting for a Pothole Repair to Highlight Need for Better Infra Maintenance

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Pat

    Re: Wheel-catching Grates

    What possible reason could the city have for not fixing this? This blows my mind.

  • CL

    So I have a random question about crossing the street. When the “don’t walk” flashing orange hand comes on, does this mean that drivers now have the right of way, and that I should not enter the street even when I know I can easily make it before the light changes?

    I frequently walk across a couple of streets where drivers typically have to wait for pedestrians to clear before they can turn left. I’ve noticed that when the sign switches from “Walk” to the 20-second countdown, some drivers start turning and get annoyed if I’m just entering the street (doing that thing where they turn and hover near me until I’m out of the way). Does the countdown mean pedestrian time is over, and that I should not enter the street even when I know I can easily make it? Or should drivers expect that they’re going to be yielding for as long as pedestrians are crossing, even if it’s basically the entire time that their light is green?

  • Deni

    I think “on paper” you are not supposed to enter the crosswalk once it has started flashing. This is very less practical on a street like Michigan Ave where the walk time is so short that it starts flashing that almost immediately after the light has changed to Walk, and that you also know you will have to wait something like 5 minutes for the next shot at getting across.

  • Fred

    That’s an interesting question, especially with the trend of decreasing Walk time and increasing flashing Don’t Walk time. One of the lights on my walk to work has essentially no Walk time and goes straight to countdown. As a fully-abled person who walks at close to 6ft/s, having to wait for a light that is timed for 3.5ft/s would double my walk to work time.

  • BlueFairlane

    I treat it like a yellow in a car or on a bike. If I can gun it and get across before the light changes, I do. If I’ll be stuck in the middle after gunning it, I wait.

    From a legal standpoint, I believe pedestrians have the right of way when in the intersection regardless.

  • Anne A

    There are some locations where “Don’t Walk” and the countdown timer starts flashing after only a few seconds (such as LaSalle at Lake or some Wacker Drive). Doesn’t that make the idea of crossing during the brief duration of the “Walk” signal rather absurd?

  • Henry

    A few years ago the NYT wrote about how, in Los Angeles, police were ticketing jaywalkers for entering a crosswalk while the countdown clock was running.

    “When Adam Bialik, a bartender, stepped off the curb on his way to work
    at the Ritz-Carlton a few blinks after the crossing signal began its red
    “Don’t Walk” countdown, he was met by a waiting police officer on the
    other side of the street and issued a ticket for $197.”

    I’ve never heard of this happening anywhere else though.

    (Search for NYTimes Car-Culture Clash to find the full article.)

  • No joke: Adam Bialick (misspelled in the NYT piece) is the brother of Streetsblog San Francisco editor Aaron Bialick.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    Perhaps its lack of money. The city of Los Angeles is spending $800,000 to replace street grates this fiscal year that could catch bicycle wheels. However, that money is coming out of the 5% of local Measure R county sales tax funds that are set-aside for bikeway installations by the city. Los Angeles is only spending general fund money for bicycling if its required as a match for grants or to supply enough staff so that these special funds do not have to be returned.

  • Pat

    I understand the argument about all the grates, which would probably take time to survey and replace, but the potential liability for this specific grate far outweighs the replacement cost.

    Its been known about since 2006 and nothing has been done, but the city has had to pay what I would guess is tens of thousands in injuries.

  • CL

    Wow, that’s ridiculous. I can’t imagine I would ever get a ticket in Chicago — but some drivers seem to think it’s bad behavior to enter when it’s counting down, so I was wondering if they’re right.

  • CL

    That’s a good point. I always assumed the long countdowns were intended to give information to pedestrians, so that people can decide for themselves whether they can make it (since everyone walks at a different pace). If they are truly intended to mean “don’t enter the intersection” then those downtown times would make no sense… although given the amount of time cars spend waiting to turn due to pedestrians downtown, I imagine that sadly some people do think pedestrians should have to stop entering the intersection after a few seconds.

  • CL

    Thanks, I do the same thing typically. If I can make it, I cross. The countdown clocks are really helpful and allow me to know for sure every time.

  • CL

    I just assumed the increasing “Don’t Walk” time was to give pedestrians more information for safety reasons… I hope it’s not truly intended to reduce the time when pedestrians can enter the intersection.

  • CL

    Yeah, I was always told it meant “Don’t enter the intersection.” But in practice I treat it like a helpful warning that the light will change soon.

  • what_eva

    When the don’t walk starts flashing (and associated countdowns) is based on a rather slow pedestrian speed so that a slower walker would be able to still easily clear the intersection had they stepped off just before the don’t walk started. If you’re an able-bodied adult, you likely walk much faster than that standard.

  • cjlane

    Here’s the IL statute:

    (625 ILCS 5/11-307) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 11-307)
    Sec. 11-307. Pedestrian-control signals. Whenever special pedestrian-control signals exhibiting the words “Walk” or “Don’t Walk” or the illuminated symbols of a walking person or an upraised palm are in place such signals shall indicate as follows:

    (a) Walk or walking person symbol. Pedestrians facing such signal may proceed across the roadway in the direction of the signal, and shall be given the right of way by the drivers of all vehicles.

    (b) Don’t Walk or upraised palm symbol. No pedestrian shall start to cross the roadway in the direction of such signal, but any pedestrian who has partly completed his crossing on the Walk signal or walking person symbol shall proceed to a sidewalk or safety island while the “Don’t Walk” signal or upraised palm symbol is illuminated, steady, or flashing.

    So, legally speaking, once the countdown starts, no one should start crossing.

    Practically speaking (and even apart from the *many* places like Anne mentions above/below), that’s a bunch of crap, and the flashing don’t walk just means ‘hurry’–and if it means anything else, then all the signal timing in Chicago is crap.