Yet Another Reckless Driver on the LFT Highlights Need for Guard Rails, Enforcement

The vehicle from this morning's crash. Photo: Johnny Quest via The Chainlink
The vehicle from this morning's crash. Photo: Johnny Quest via The Chainlink

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A year ago, in the wake of an intentional vehicle attack on New York’s Hudson River Greenway in Lower Manhattan that killed 8 people and injured 11 others, I noted that while Chicago authorities should do everything they can to prevent vehicular terrorism, everyday traffic violence is a much bigger problem here.

I illustrated the post with a 2010 photo of a taxi whose driver careened off of Lake Shore Drive and onto the Lakefront trail, because in recent weeks there had been two cases of motorists leaving the drive and crashing near the Lakefront Trail. That was especially problematic because the Chicago Park District’s project to separate pedestrian and bike traffic on the shoreline path was building new trails, usually for cyclists, closer to the highway. After bike and running advocates flagged the issue the park district began working with the Illinois Department of Department of Transportation to install guardrails on vulnerable stretches.

A cab driver crashed onto the Lakefront Trail in summer 2010. Photo: Ciscel
A cab driver crashed onto the Lakefront Trail in summer 2010. Photo: Ciscel

Today Yasmeen Schuller, owner of The Chainlink social networking site, alerted me of a recent crash that highlighted the fact that more work is still needed to protect trail users  from reckless drivers. Chainlink members reported that this morning there was debris all over both the pedestrian and bike paths south of Belmont, and a police car blocking access to the trail.

According to Police News Affairs, at 1:56 a.m. today, a 27-year-old woman was driving a Volkswagen Passat north on the 3100 block of North LSD, when she struck a tree, a light pole and then a wooden snow fence. The motorist was transported to Northwestern Hospital for treatment. She was later cited for negligent driving, operating a motor vehicle without insurance, driving under the influence of alcohol, and driving under the influence of alcohol with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08, just over the legal limit.

A Chainlink member called “Johnny Quest” posted that when he came across the crash site, a worker was clearing the debris with a snowplow. He shared this video of the site.

Quest and other Chainlinkers noted that this part of the Lakefront Trail still lacks guardrails. Serge Lubomudrov noted that the 2010 taxi crash occurred just a few hundred feet south of today’s collision.

“Given the amount of traffic on the [path], doesn’t it make sense to ensure that there is a protective barrier in almost all areas?” asked another member. Others noted that the drive’s 40 mph speed limit is rarely enforced, and it’s common for driver to do 60 or more, so better police enforcement and/or speed cameras would help keep everyone safer.

Indeed, now that the new paths place cyclists even closer to speeding cars, it’s more important that ever for the authorities to get a handle on the crash problem.

This post is made possible by a grant from the Illinois Bicycle Lawyers at Keating Law Offices, P.C., a Chicago, Illinois law firm committed to representing pedestrians and cyclists. The content is Streetsblog Chicago’s own, and Keating Law Offices neither endorses the content nor exercises any editorial control.

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