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“Designing Inclusive Streets: How do Auto Oriented Spaces Hinder Pedestrian Safety in Chicago?”

Author: Elvis O. Kouassi

Department: UIC Institute for Policy & Civic Engagement

Advisor: Dr. Joseph K. Hoereth, IPCE

Abstract: The safety of pedestrians has been a decades-long policy issue and as pedestrian and bicycle use increases nationally, the lack of intentional street design places pedestrians and bicyclists at a heightened risk for crashes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 726 fatal bicycle crashes and an additional 49,000 injury-sustaining bicycle crashes in 2012. In 2013, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) reported that the majority of pedestrian crashes in the city of Chicago happened within 125 feet of an intersection. Despite proposed plans to reduce crashes, pedestrian and bike safety remain a critical issue in the United States. Evidently, NHTSA estimated 6,516 pedestrians were killed in 2020. One popular approach of addressing pedestrian safety is the implementation of the Complete Streets policy. This policy aims to enhance the pedestrian experience on public streets through means such as minimizing crossing distances, managing driver speed, and incorporating greenery. In 2006, the city of Chicago implemented its first complete streets policy to encourage multimodal transportation networks throughout the city which served as the basis of the 2013 CDOT’s Complete Streets policy. This research aims to analyze how CDOT’s 2013 Complete Streets Chicago policy has affected pedestrian safety in the city of Chicago. This study utilized a literature review of peer-reviewed journal articles centered around urban design that promote pedestrian safety. The research demonstrates how pedestrian and bicycles crashes have continued to increase even after the 2013 Complete Streets Chicago policy. Findings further indicate that the construction of Complete Streets is not equitably distributed throughout the city. This research incorporates a list of recommendations for the city of Chicago to consider when implementing Complete Streets particularly on college campuses.

Keywords: Walkability, street design, Biking, pedestrian safety, and urban design