Orchard Lane – Opportunity

If you don’t have time to read this entire post, we’re making a pitch for the newly-resurfaced pavement on Orchard Lane to receive markings designating pedestrian crosswalks ACROSS (East/West) it, as well as using the opportunity to stripe a Bicycle Lane (even if only temporarily as a learning measure).

Why? #1: Orchard Lane is poorly designed, serving as a traffic collector and “aggregator”, gathering vehicles from the smaller side lanes (should be “streets”) and funneling them all towards one of only a few exit points. Not only that, it serves as a high-speed North/South shortcut, especially when there are delays due to train crossings or construction.

Why? #2: In July 2010, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a state law requiring vehicles to make a full stop if a pedestrian is waiting to cross, or if he is in the process of crossing, at a non-controlled (no traffic lights) crosswalk. Five years later, most drivers are still unaware of this law. Of those that are, many believe it applies only at visibly-marked-on-the-pavement crosswalks, whereas the law applies to ALL crosswalks… whether marked or not.


For most of its fairly short life, Orchard Lane (in the Country Walk subdivision) has been unadorned by such trivialities as pavement markings and stripes. Here’s a representative photo:

This photo clearly shows intersections and sidewalks all around, yet not a single crosswalk (and even a missing STOP line). Orchard Park (off the picture to the top) is a common destination for pedestrians, joggers, bicyclists, dog-walkers, etc. Many need to cross the Orchard Lane Speedway, but have no clear place to do where (and this is the important part) drivers are EXPECTING them to cross.

This photo clearly shows intersections and sidewalks all around, yet not a single crosswalk (and even a missing STOP line). Orchard Park (off the picture to the top) is a common destination for pedestrians, joggers, bicyclists, dog-walkers, etc. Many need to cross the Orchard Lane Speedway, but have no clear place to do where (and this is the important part) drivers are EXPECTING them to cross.

Orchard Lane, from Monaville Road south for most of a mile, has been freshly resurfaced. Other than some N/S crosswalks and “Stop” lines, there are no other pavement markings on it as of this morning (Fri Oct 9th).

Newly-resurfaced Orchard Lane.

Newly-resurfaced Orchard Lane.

Most of the North/South crosswalks have been unmarked for… well. forever! Don’t know what took them so long, but they are a welcome addition.

We've waited a LONG time to get marked crosswalks along Orchard Lane. Still don't have them ACROSS Orchard though...

We’ve waited a LONG time to get marked crosswalks along Orchard Lane. Still don’t have them ACROSS Orchard though…

Of course, with the pavement unmarked and much wider than it needs to be in the middle of a 100% residential area, no parked cars or bike lanes to deal with (not even marked pedestrian crosswalks), sidewalks set WAY back from the pavement,fairly gentle curves… the built environment, the “context” of the pavement, screams “Here’s a place you are expected to drive fast.” So they do.

Instead of fixing that, the “Band-Aid” fix for that, for years, has been the road-side “Radar Reminder”.

Apparently having a couple of people with a camera, standing a radar speed display, had drivers worried that we were making our own

Apparently having a couple of people with a camera, standing at a radar speed display, had drivers worried that we were making our own “Photo speed trap”, ready to take time-stamped pictures of speed, cars, and license plates. Couldn’t get a picture of anyone exceeding 25 MPH.

Do you know where the ONLY E/W crosswalk across Orchard Lane is located? ALL the way from Monaville Road down to Rollins Road, there’s only one: at the intersection by Rollins Road between the Thornton’s and Wendy’s. That doesn’t help people trying to cross in the middle of the subdivision!

The only crosswalk for the entire length of Orchard Lane is here at Rollins Road.

The only crosswalk for the entire length of Orchard Lane is here at Rollins Road.

From the Chicago Tribune article “Crosswalk Study: Cars Don’t Stop for Pedestrians

Most drivers tracked in a new Chicago-area survey failed to comply with a state law requiring them to stop for pedestrians, a finding that the research’s backers attribute to inadequate police enforcement and education on traffic-safety laws. But the results suggest that driver compliance with the must-stop law may be significantly improved if more visual warning cues are placed at crosswalks.

But compliance with the statewide law requiring drivers to stop whenever a pedestrian has entered a crosswalk was only about 18 percent on average when the pedestrians attempted to cross a street in a traditional painted crosswalk, the survey found. And the compliance rate plummeted to almost 5 percent at unmarked crosswalks. Under the law, a crosswalk is present whenever a sidewalk leads into the street, regardless of any markings present.

Unmarked crosswalks, in the middle of a speedway dividing halves of a 100% residential area when drivers are not even aware of the law? Not a good idea. We should have had crosswalks marked, signed , and maintained for years now.

From this article by NBC5 Chicago: “Despite Law, Motorists Still Confused About Crosswalk Rules”

In front of Highland Park’s city hall, pedestrians and drivers alike routinely feel as if they’re in an odd dance for survival. And along 31st street in suburban Oak Brook, a deer-crossing sign immediately precedes a bike-crossing sign, but nothing indicating to drivers that they need to stop at the crosswalk itself.

“There has to be a clearer way for motorists to know that a pedestrian is attempting to cross the street instead of just standing at the curb,” said Oak Brook Police Chief Jim Kruger.

Make sure you watch the video from their Investigative Report!

Some municipalities actually bother to make it clearer for both pedestrians AND drivers as to where crosswalks are located AND the requirement to stop, using additional signage. Round Lake Park, as part of their recent downtown renovation, added these signs at their crosswalks:

An enhanced marked crosswalk in downtown Round Lake Heights, helping to make sure that everyone knows a full stop is required when the crosswalk is in use.

An enhanced marked crosswalk in downtown Round Lake Heights, helping to make sure that everyone knows a full stop is required when the crosswalk is in use.

OK… that point is just about beaten into submission. We’ll make a quick mention about bike lanes.

Once you’re in the Country Walk subdivision, Orchard Lane is more than wide enough to an on-street bike lane. What a great opportunity for the Mayor Hill, the Trustees, and RLB Public Works to inexpensively gather some data points by establishing a temporary bike lane on one side.

Yes, there are sidewalks on either side, but the general rule is for bicyclists to NOT ride on sidewalks unless there is no other choice. There’s an age cut-off which varies by municipalities, anywhere from 8-12 years is typical, so toddlers and small children still learning to ride may use the sidewalk for safety but teens and adults have to use “other infrastructure”.

Yes, there IS a multi-use trail along Hook Lake, but it is at the extreme eastern edge of the developments, and doesn’t serve the bulk of residents cycling N/S to Eagle Creek, Rollins Road, Walmart, Rollins Crossing, etc.

You can see in this image from Google Maps highlighting RLB Bicycle options… our few paths are a bit… disconnected… and connection is what we’re trying to get!

Solid green indicates established and marked bicycle paths/trails.

Solid green indicates established and marked bicycle paths/trails.

A N/S bike lane along Orchard leading up to Monaville Road would make a great connector from the west end of the bike lane along Hook Drive, and would GREATLY facilitate travel and recreation opportunities for residents in the Country Walk subdivision to-and-from our “Central Business District” and further if desired onto the Millennium Trail.

Wouldn't bee too hard to lay a stripe up one side of Orchard Lane...

Wouldn’t bee too hard to lay a stripe up one side of Orchard Lane…

Lastly, spend 5 minutes watching this video about a pop-up bike lane project:

Two Days in September from Julie Campoli on Vimeo.

Thanks! Let’s see what happens!

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