Within a week of council members voting to install an elevated crosswalk on Madison Street, a Berwyn woman was struck while crossing at the corner of Ferdinand Avenue. The driver was cited for failing to yield and allegedly told police he never saw her.
Since working to transform Madison Street into a suburban shopping destination, Forest Park officials have wrestled with how best to keep pedestrians safe as they dart from store to store. The Berwyn woman who was struck Aug. 4 is the eighth pedestrian to be hit in the last year while crossing the street, according to municipal officials.
“Madison Street has its challenges,” Village Administrator Mike Sturino said. “It’s a very busy and interesting roadway that has its distractions.”
The elevated crosswalk that will be installed in the coming weeks at Constitution Court is just the latest attempt to engineer a safer corridor. Recently, every crosswalk on the roadway was painted to increase its visibility and new, brightly colored signs were erected along the sidewalks. The town has also experimented with temporary signs that were placed in the middle of the roadway, but by all accounts it seemed those only heartened pedestrians to step into traffic.
“Anecdotally, it’s my belief that Madison Street has, by far, the most vehicle to pedestrian accidents than any other roadway in the community,” Sturino said.
The most recent fatality occurred in January 2007 when a 52-year-old man was struck by a hit-and-run driver. That accident occurred shortly before 8 p.m. near the intersection with Constitution Court.
The woman struck Aug. 4, also 52, was hit like so many other pedestrians across the state – during daylight hours and on a municipal roadway. According to Illinois Department of Transportation crash data, more than 6,200 pedestrians were struck in 2006, the most recent year for which such figures are available. The great majority of those accidents, 3,861 of them, occurred during the day. Overwhelmingly, people were most likely to be struck by a car when walking along city roadways as opposed to state routes or highways.
Of the 138 people killed in 2006, 35 were at least 65 years old, making seniors the most likely to die from their injuries. In 2004 and 2005, the same demographic was killed most often when struck by a car.
Police Chief Jim Ryan said he is considering a sting operation to make people more aware of the need to yield. Much like the program implemented in Chicago this summer, undercover officers would pose as pedestrians and any motorist who fails to yield could receive a ticket.
“We’re definitely thinking about that,” Ryan said. “It’s more for education.”
The woman struck earlier this month received minor injuries, according to police.