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After Cafe Is Struck 3 Times by Drivers, Owners Push for Safety Improvements

The aftermath of the February 2015 collision. Photo: Brew Brew Coffee and Tea

Talk about a caffeine crash! After two different incidents in six days in which drivers collided with their property, the owners of Brew Brew Coffee and Tea, 3832 West Diversey in Avondale, decided to take action by launching an online petition asking the city for safety improvements, which has garnered over a thousand signatures.

On Saturday, October 14, two drivers crashed their cars into each other, both careened onto the sidewalk in front of the coffee house, and one of the cars destroyed its sidewalk café fixtures. Then on Thursday, October 19, there was a five-car pile-up and one of the drivers struck the business’ van, which was parked out front, totaling it. Miraculously no one was seriously hurt, but co-owner Jazmin Medrano says she’s afraid it’s only a matter of time until a tragedy occues. “It’s not just about property damage – someone is going to get killed.”

Medrano says these are only the latest of a series of collisions at the intersection of Diversey and Avers. The café is located at the northwest corner, and Kosciuszko Park, a popular Logan Square green space, is at the southwest corner. This section of Diversey has two travel lanes and bike lanes. South of Diversey Avers is a two-way street, while north of Diversey it’s one-way northbound. In February 2015 a driver smashed into the café’s storefront, and Medrano says there have been several other collisions in recent months.

Screen Shot 2017-10-25 at 5.39.53 PM
Medrano says northbound drivers on Avers ofter fail to obey the stop sign at Diversey. Image: Google Street View
Nedrano says northbound drivers on Avers ofter fail to obey the stop sign at Diversey. Image: Google Street View

In one case a man on a bike was struck, and in another a teenage girl was hit while walking, according to Medrano. Luckily, she says, neither was seriously injured. According to Steven Vance’s Chicago Crash Browser, there were 39 driver-involved crashes at the junction between 2009 and 2014, including one case in which a cyclist was struck.

Medrano thinks the problem is that drivers on Avers don’t respect their stop sign at Diversey, while speeding is common on Diversey. She recently contacted the offices of the two local aldermen, the 30th Ward’s Ariel Reboyras and the 31st Ward’s Milly Santiago (Diversey is the border of their wards) to request that they do something to stop the crash epidemic. Medrano asked for a stoplight to be installed, but was told that isn’t an option due to the presence of a traffic signal at Diversey and Hamlin, a block east.

Medrano says the ward staffers were responsive, promptly answering her follow-up emails. But the café owners became frustrated by what appeared to be a lack of progress on the issue, so after the third incident in which their property was destroyed, they launched the petition to send to the aldermen. They were wowed by the immediate response from neighbors. Rodolfo Rosas Jr.'s comment was typical. "Please do not let the tragedy of deaths occur before doing something to prevent them."

Yesterday Medrano got an update from Santiago's office informing her that safety improvements were already in the works. The Chicago Department of Transportation is tentatively planning to install a pedestrian island at the intersection, and the alderman's office is offering to help the cafe get concrete bollards installed in front of their storefront to prevent future damage.

Medrano says she was pleased to hear about this infrastructure, but she hopes the city will do more to improve safety at the site, such as installing stop signs on Diversey as well as Avers. "Almost every day you see a near-miss."

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