Pedestrian refuge island on Monroe Street at the Art Institute of Chicago, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from Steven Vance’s photostream

Chicago has a goal. Currently the city has about 50 pedestrian fatalities a year — they want to reduce that to zero in the next 10 years. To that end, they unveiled a sweeping new pedestrian safety plan earlier this month. First came a series of seven neighborhood meetings conducted by the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) to get input on how to improve the pedestrian experience in their city. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel noted the importance of walkability to the economic health of urban areas and the physical health of the people who use them in a letter published in the plan:

Pedestrians are vital to both the economic and physical health of Chicago. Building more and better pedestrian spaces will help businesses grow and encourage further development of our workforce for those who want to live in a walkable, transit-friendly city. Additionally, by encouraging more people to walk, we can improve our collective health and quality of life.

The plan calls for a variety of means to improve safety. From the Chicago Tribune:

The hundreds of recommendations include better-marked crosswalks, the establishment of pedestrian islands in the middle of multilane streets, better signals and beacons, and pedestrian countdown timers at crossings. Other long-term improvements discussed in the plan include staggered midblock bump-outs on residential streets to slow traffic.

Crosswalk overview, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from Steven Vance’s photostream

An article in DC StreetsBlog lists additional changes to be made:

It calls for identifying and repairing two high-collision corridors and four dangerous intersections annually, basing the interventions on crash data. Chicago also aims to improve driver education, conduct police crackdowns on dangerous drivers, and implement tougher safety mandates for taxis.

CDOT applying pedestrian safety campaign decal, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from Steven Vance’s photostream

The plan contains over 250 separate recommendations. Particular care is being paid to teens and senior citizens. CDOT found in their 2011 Pedestrian Crash Analysis that teens were the most likely to fall victim to car-pedestrian collisions and that seniors had a 10% better chance than the average pedestrian to meet with a vehicular crash.

You can see the final version of the Chicago Pedestrian Plan here.

CDOT Launches Pedestrian Safety Campaign, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from Zolk’s photostream