Jaywalking fines run into resistance

The Trib reports on cons and pros:

Gerald Roper, president of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, said that the problems experienced by cabs, delivery trucks and other business-related vehicles will only get worse downtown if there aren’t consequences for jaywalking. “I watch tourists who obey the signs,” Roper said. “I just think it is people who are in the city all the time who are used to violating because they know the corners, they know the cops.”

Ald. Thomas Allen (38th), chairman of the City Council’s Transportation Committee, said cracking down on some of the city’s worst drivers would be a better use of resources than targeting pedestrians. He also questioned the efficiency of having traffic aides leave their posts to chase jaywalkers and then write them tickets. Instead of concentrating on easing downtown congestion, he said, the city should be sending more help to the neighborhoods. “Give me some of those traffic aides,” he said. “I could give half a dozen locations where we could use them out here. We have people driving to work who need to get to work, too.” If the jaywalking crackdown makes it to the council for a vote, “I don’t think it would be received very well,” Allen said.

Roper, despite his co-chairmanship of “Business Leaders for Transportation”:http://www.metroplanning.org/businessleaders doesn’t seem to understand that businesses choose downtown Chicago not because it’s the easiest city in America to drive in, but because it’s a pleasant environment to _walk around_ in. That walkability means easy, convenient access to nice restaurants, plush gyms, luxurious apartments, and oh, trainfuls of competent worker bees.

Hilkevitch adds:

The city’s proposal focuses on reducing traffic congestion downtown by ticketing those pesky pedestrians who jaywalk in the middle of blocks or cross the street at corners against traffic signals. The city apparently sees such actions not as no-no’s, but as crimes against a humanity of street-clogging, pollution-belching automobilists… Aldermen immediately blasted the plan as short-sighted, unworkable and, uh, plain stupid. If Velasquez is so desperate about what to do about congestion, he should get to work on building a pedestrian component into Chicago’s traffic program… “I thought the last 40 years taught us that making the city faster for cars only made it more unpleasant for people,” Chicagoan Carl Wasielewski wrote to Getting Around. “But a great metropolis like Chicago still insists on looking more like Houston than Paris.” CTA riders and Metra commuters outnumber Loop drivers. If there is a need to let a handful of cars turn right at an intersection where 100 or more pedestrians are trying to cross a busy downtown street, the city should start with better training for its 303 traffic control aides.

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