Standing on either end of Madison Street between Desplaines and Harlem avenues, it’s hard to miss the brightly colored signs that line both sidewalks. There’s also the nifty handiwork of skilled laborers who’ve left multi-colored patterns and detailed etchings, all intended to grab our attention.
No, it’s not the dazzling storefronts. We’re talking, of course, about that strip of pavement between the stores and the village’s layered approach to warning motorists that pedestrians are near. Gasp! Can you imagine? A street full of bars and restaurants and antiquities and other cool stuff is brimming with people and some of them have the audacity to occasionally cross through traffic. How rude.
Local officials in Forest Park have been pulling their hair out for a couple years now, trying to figure out how best to keep pedestrians from getting hit by passing cars. They’ve painted crosswalks to make them more visible, they’ve stamped the pavement so it stands out and they’ve planted fluorescent signs up and down the roadway. Next on the list is an elevated crosswalk that will rise to the same height as the sidewalk. Not only will pedestrians be more visible, but drivers will have to choose between slowing down and replacing their exhaust systems.
The latest accident between a car and a pedestrian was Aug. 4, bringing the total number of such incidents on Madison Street in the last 12 months to eight. Thankfully, the woman struck wasn’t seriously injured. According to police, the driver said he never saw her. His view was partially obstructed by other stopped cars – whose drivers did see the woman – as he maneuvered into a turning lane headed for Ferdinand Avenue.
The police department is now giving some thought to using a sting operation to catch drivers who don’t yield and, likewise, pedestrians who jaywalk. For this to be a success there will need to be a sustained effort that goes well beyond the initial push. During the busiest times, roughly 1,000 cars travel Madison Street in an hour. That’s a lot of traffic, and much of it is suspected to be commuters trying to avoid the snarls on the Eisenhower Expressway. If the resources aren’t there, this exercise may be a flash in the pan that doesn’t amount to much.
Unfortunately, it seems we’re proving that we need the police to baby-sit us as we make our way along Madison Street. If courtesy isn’t enough to keep people from getting run over, bring on the nanny.
Hip, hip (hooray!)
One of Forest Park’s Little League teams recently completed a phenomenal season, finishing third overall in the state. The 13- and 14-year-old boys, whether they realize it yet, have made some memories that will last them a lifetime. Congratulations to the players and thanks to the coaches and parents who made such a summer possible.