Between 2017 and 2021, 40% of traffic accidents in Chicago in which pedestrians were seriously injured or killed were related to cars turning left.
That’s why the city has said it is taking steps to make left turns safer.
What the authorities are going to do is called “calming traffic” and includes the addition of larger speed bumps and poles (plastic poles on a flexible base) near pedestrian crossings.
The idea is to encourage drivers to make slower turns at an angle of 90 degrees and not give them the opportunity to turn quickly and at a smaller angle. The ultimate goal is to better protect pedestrians, who often find themselves in drivers’ blind spots on left turns.
In Belmont Cragin, Englewood, Humboldt Park, Ravenswood and other areas, drivers are already met by rubber speed bumps with bright yellow posts, like those used to separate bike lanes.
Last year, the city has already changed 13 intersections in this way. This year, it is planned to change even more, focusing on areas with a high level of accidents involving drivers turning left.
Calming traffic is another component of the Vision Zero urban safety campaign, launched in 2017 with the goal of eliminating fatal road accidents in the city by 2026.
According to data collected by Vision Zero, an average of five people are seriously injured every day in traffic accidents in Chicago.
Over the years, other measures have been introduced in various places of the city to slow down traffic and protect pedestrians, including dead ends, speed bumps in alleys and roundabouts.
“So far, the results have been positive,” CDOT spokeswoman Erica Schroeder said, “the data show that drivers make safer turns, give way to people at pedestrian crossings and generally reduce the number of accidents at intersections.”
The Department of Transportation has requested recommendations from city council members to decide which high-risk intersections should be modified first.
Nevertheless, the best long-term solution to the problem of accidents at pedestrian crossings, according to drivers and pedestrians, would be the use of concrete barriers both to control turns and to protect bike paths.
Reviews of the introduction of speed bumps and bollards are also mixed in other cities that have already taken similar measures, including New York, Washington, D.C., and Portland, Oregon.
Meanwhile, this year Chicago plans to install new speed bumps and barriers at more intersections in Chicago, because “making getting around Chicago safer and easier is a top priority.”