Crosswalk Crackdown? Not So Much

CHICAGO (CBS) — If you drive through a crosswalk when somebody’s trying to cross, you could be fined up to $500, under a state law on the books since last spring.

But is the law really being enforced? The chances of getting away with it are pretty good, CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports.

State law now says that when you see someone simply step into a crosswalk, you must stop your vehicle and let them pass. But at one crosswalk in the heart of the Loop on Monday, walkers often waited a long time as traffic just whizzed by.

One man waiting to cross from the Cook County Building across Clark Street to the Daley Center had to wait a full minute, even though he had the right of way.  He said he often uses the walkway – which is plainly marked – and simply takes his chances.

Another man and his son had to bide their time, too.

“It’s always an issue, a big concern,” he said.

Last spring, the Chicago Police Department staged a series of highly publicized stings using plainclothes officers in crosswalks. When drivers didn’t stop, they were ticketed. The department said it was trying to call attention to the new law, which is aimed at reducing pedestrian crosswalk deaths and injuries.

Dan Persky of Chicago’s Active Transportation Alliance lobbied for passage of the law.

“A new law on its own needs aggressive enforcement. Right now, it’s words on a paper,” he said.

During the last nine months of 2010, the Chicago Police Department says it issued 1,177 citations, an average of 4.3 per day.

Driver Alyson Arnold believes all police officers need to be aware of the law, too. She described stopping for a man in a crosswalk on North Clark Street.

“The policeman behind me wasn’t looking where he was going because he had to stop short not to hit me,” she said.

Officially police officials say the law is crystal clear. Still, it would seem that the department does not expect motorists to instantly change their years of driving habits.        

Ninety percent of drivers now wear seat belts, but it took decades to get to this point.

  • bob

    I’m primarily a walker but I don’t see how they can expect drivers to stop for all the peds who cross against the lights. I thinks pedestrians that hold up traffic by crossing against the lights should be ticketed – esp at rush hour and esp when it prevents cars from turning on arrows such as at at Clinton and Monroe.

    The crossing they showed doesn’t have a light but believe me, if they stopped they would be rear-ended. Nobody stops at these and giving out a few tickets isn’t going to do it. They need cones on the lane lines at the crosswalk or something.

  • bigjim

    Dear Bob. I believe the law implies giving the right of way in a crosswalk where there are no stop signs or lights. We must always be careful to avoid those walking agaainst a red light.

  • Adrian

    In Europe all zebra crossings are clearly marked with flashing bollards giving the motorist a heads up to be prepared to stop, while in Chicago we have to deal with some worn down painted on lines that are hardly visible in daytime let alone at night ! I agree with Bob also, how bout ticketing some pedestrians for crossing against the lights, could drum up some much needed revenue instead of always sticking it to the motorists !

  • chris

    Even at O’Hare motorists occasionally ignore the Traffic Management Aids . I enlisted the help of one to Cross from Terminal 3 to the Transportation Center. We were both in clearly marked crossing lanes, she had on a yellow safety vest and orange wand, signaled motorists to stop, and a Honda minivan brushed up against her. My brother a pedestrian in New York was hit by a car, by one of these I’ve got to save a couple of minutes, idiots. He spent six weeks in a coma, seven months in the hospital suffered a near fatal broken hip, ruptured colon, sepsis and 11 years later he still has a open wound in his back, not completely healed. That’s the price inflicted on him by a brainless moron who just had to get there a little faster.

  • Donald Geldernick

    Well, it;s a two way street. A lot of motorists enter the pedway before the light changes in their favor because pedestrians keep walking after getting a clear no walk. People on both sides of this issue keep going until the other guy had the red light. This is not the plan. NO WALK and YELLOW lights are meant to allow time to clear the intersection so the right of of a hurry and too rude. Witness all of the honkers. I agree, those who enter the pedway and have no green light should be ticketed, but so too should the pedestrians who hold up traffic and cause grid lock. Witness how rapidly Chicago Traffic Management personnel clear traffic from the December Parade of Lights with over two million people on the Magnificent Mile. When jay walkers were allowed to cause grid lock, traffic clearing after the parade took three hours. Now with the aid of Traffic Management people directing both vehicular and pedestrian traffic, the flow clears in thirty minutes. But can we legislate RESPECT?

  • Sarah

    Dear Bob – How about older people who can’t walk very fast, or people with disabilities. Should those “walkers” get ticketed as well? I’m sorry us walkers don’t move fast enough to accomodate your time schedule.

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