Faulty Signage Created Dangerous Situation for Peds by Lincoln Park Zoo

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Because “No Parking” signs by the zoo weren’t relocated after a curb ramp was moved, drivers parked in the crosswalk. Photo: Andrew Herman

Here’s a great example of the Streetsblog community making a difference by helping to get an infrastructure problem fixed.

On December 15, Andrew Herman from the group Bike Walk Lincoln Park contacted us about a crosswalk problem by the neighborhood’s zoo. Earlier in the year, as part of a project to repave Stockton Drive through Lincoln Park, the Chicago Department of Transportation relocated a curb cut for pedestrians on the west side of the street, across from The Farm-in-the-Zoo. CDOT built a new curb ramp several feet north, so that it would line up with the pedestrian ramp on the east side of the street, creating a shorter, safer crossing route, which they striped with a high-visibility, “continental” crosswalk.

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The old curb ramp was located just south of the new one. Photo: Andrew Herman

However, after CDOT built the new curb ramp, they failed to relocate the “No Parking” signs by the old ramp. As a result, motorists were parking north of the old No Parking zone, right in the middle of the new crosswalk. Drivers only seemed to pay attention to the signs, but were apparently oblivious to the presence of the curb ramps and zebra striping.

On July 2, Herman contacted 43rd Ward Alderman Michele Smith’s office about the problem, including tweeting Smith. Her office told me they immediately submitted a service request asking CDOT to fix move the signs.

Herman said he followed up several times over the summer, and the ward office resubmitted the request on multiple occasions, but the work was never done. “It’s not my job to defend CDOT,” Smith told me, but she added that the department has had its hands full with repaving work in 2014, in the wake of the brutal “Chiberia” winter.

Herman contacted Streetsblog after he saw a family almost get run over while crossing outside of the crosswalk to get to the ZooLights festival, because a car was parked in the crosswalk. “It’s ridiculous that no one seems to even want to make small, easy changes in such a high-pedestrian and kid-friendly area,” he wrote.

It is notable that this hazard existed for so many months without being fixed. In 2006, three blocks north, four-year-old Maya Hirsh was crossing with her mother and brother near the zoo at Belden and Lincoln Park West when she was fatally struck by a driver who failed to stop for a stop sign.

For months prior to the crash, residents had complained about drivers running the stop sign and had asked the city to restripe faded crosswalks and relocate the signs for better visibility. Two days after the crash, CDOT striped new crosswalks and installed oversized stop signs in more visible locations. One year later, the intersection was reconfigured with curb bump-outs that shortened the pedestrian crossing distance by several feet. The city eventually paid the Hirsch family a $3.25 million settlement.

After Herman wrote me on December 18th, I immediately contacted CDOT about the issue. A few days later, spokesman Pete Scales told me the problem was fixed on the afternoon of the 18th. “Thanks for pointing that out to us,” he wrote. BWLP’s Michelle Stenzel tweeted her delight at the new signs:

 

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