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‘Drive With Care’ Campaign

Four local aldermen will join other community leaders on April 26 in signing a Drive With Care pledge and kicking off an ambitious campaign to reduce automobile crashes on the Northwest Side.

Ald. Thomas Allen (38th Ward), Ariel E. Reboyras (30th), Margaret Laurino (39th), and Rey Colon (35th) will sign the pledge and encourage others to do so throughout the ten-square-mile section where the campaign hopes to reduce auto crashes by 50 percent.

The pledge – in which motorists commit to drive with regard for the safety of others who use the streets – is a key element of the Northwest Drive With Care campaign, along with traffic calming measures, pedestrian improvements, and targeted enforcement.

All these tactics have been shown to be effective, but they haven’t all been used at once in a concerted effort, said Randy Neufeld of the Healthy Streets Campaign.

Significantly reducing crashes will require changing drivers’ attitudes, and one step is “outing the crashes” – making people aware of the large number of collisions and where they take place, Neufeld said. In 2005 there were over 9,000 reported crashes in the Drive With Care area (bounded by Austin, Montrose, Kedzie, and Fullerton) with over 1,400 injuries and 10 fatalities – 25 crashes and 4 injuries a day, and nearly one death each month. Drive With Care campaigners who take the pledge to community groups will bring maps showing “where the rear end collisions are happening, where senior citizens are being hit,” Neufeld said.

Pledge signers will display rear window stickers saying “I Drive Safe,” part of a “social marketing” effort to create widespread awareness and change attitudes.

As part of the campaign a team including police and transportation agencies will follow up on serious crashes and report to the aldermen and others on the Campaign Task Force with recommendations for design and enforcement changes.

The two-year campaign is funded by a $127,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation.

The Drive With Care Steering Committee including the four aldermen will detail the plan for the campaign and sign the pledge at a press conference at 9 a.m. on Thursday, April 26 at Our Lady of Resurrection Hospital, 5645 W. Addison.

‘Ride of Silence’ Honors Fallen Cyclists

Fallen bicyclists will be commemorated in three silent bike rides in the area on Wednesday, May 17, as the Chicagoland Bicyle Federation prepares to launch a “Drive With Care” campaign to promote responsible driving.

Bike riders wearing black armbands will gather at 7 p.m. at Daley Plaza, Joliet Memorial Stadium, and Arlington Heights’ Recreation Park (see below for addresses), for ten-mile rides commemorating hundreds of cyclists killed on the roads annually. The Ride of Silence is taking place simultaneously in 177 towns and cities, according to Dan Korman of CBF.

Motor vehicles kill nearly 200 pedestrians and cyclists in the Chicago region each year, and injure thousands, Korman said. Pedetrians and cyclists account for nearly 25 percent of traffic-related deaths in the region. We tend to treat such fatalities as “accidents” rather than the result of reckless driving and traffic design that ignores nondrivers, Korman added.

Organizing the Joliet ride is Sara Jo Briese, whose 68-year-old mother, Janice Briese, was killed while biking in May, 2005. The driver in the case was acquitted of two minor traffic violations.

“It is beyond belief that someone driving with a clear sight line behind my mom kills her and walks free,” said Briese.

The Joliet ride will follow a memorial tribute at 6:45 p.m. for Janice Briese, who led the Joliet Bicycle Club’s Thursday morning ride for 12 years.

Chicago cyclists recently erected a “ghost bike” — a riderless white bicycle locked in place with a memorial sign — at 1000 N. Western Avenue, where 50-year-old father of three Isai Medina was killed by a hit-and-run driver in January.

In Arlington Heights, a 72-year-old cyclist died in October, 2004, after being struck by a hit-and-run driver.

CBF’s Healthy Streets Watch logs the constant stream of reports of pedestrian and cyclist injuries and fatalities.

The group’s Healthy Streets Campaign includes a range of initiatives “to make physically active transportation safe, convenient, and fun,” according to the group’s website. These include establishing a standard that all transportation projects must accomodate all modes to travel; establishing “safe routes” for pedestrians and bicyclists to destinations like schools, shopping, and parks; and opening selected streets for traffic-free biking and walking on weekends.

CBF is also preparing to launch a “Drive With Care” marketing drive, modeled on anti-drunk driving campaigns, to stigmatize all reckless driving and make responsible, attentive driving the norm.

The first phase will focus on speeding, pointing out that excessive speed is a factor in at least a third of all car crashes and virtually all pedestrian and cyclist fatalities. According to CBF, the probability of death and serious injury for a pedestrian hit by a car increases from 5 percent at 20 m.p.h. to 80 percent at 40 m.p.h.

The Ride of Silence will start at Daley Plaza, Dearborn and Washington, in Chicago; Memorial Stadium, 3000 W. Jefferson (Route 52) in Joliet; and Recreation Park, 500 E. Miner, in Arlington Heights.



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