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Chicago Gives Pedestrians a Head Start at Select Intersections
by crandell | 01/28/2010
I noticed the other day that CDOT had adjusted traffic lights at a couple intersections on my street to give pedestrians a few seconds head start to begin crossing before cars get a green light. This is called a Leading Pedestrian Interval, or LPI (check out this Streetsblog video about LPIs). This is one of those many progressive things I've read about other cities doing and wished I'd see at home. So I'm happy to see this tool being used in Chicago as the city learns that pedestrians should be the priority on our streets.
LPIs allow pedestrians to assert their priority at an intersection. When you step into the crosswalk a few seconds before the cars start moving, you become much more visible to drivers than when you're standing at the curb. It's also much easier and safer to claim your right-of-way when traffic is stopped -- as opposed to normal intersections where you often have to step in front of moving cars making right turns to force them to stop.
CDOT spokesman Brian Steele said that Chicago has been using LPIs since 2004. Currently 40 signals have LPIs, and another 10-15 are in the works for 2010. CDOT changes these signals based on recommendations from the CDOT Pedestrian Program and from the public, following a field survey and review of crash data and traffic capacity. A few intersections are being updated as part of a nighttime pedestrian crash reduction effort (see 8/24/2009 CDOT news release).
Have you seen LPIs in your neighborhood? Are there dangerous intersections where you'd like to see this? Share in the comments below, and be sure to tell your alderman and let CDOT know.