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How safe are refuge islands in Chicago?

by | Dec 9, 2021 | Car Accidents, Personal Injury

Illinois residents might find walking or bicycling the preferable way to travel short distances. Some wish to save money, and others seek health benefits. None want to suffer injuries, but being near cars and other vehicles presents dangers. In Chicago, planners reduced the danger levels by building “islands” to protect cyclists and pedestrians from harm. While not perfect, these island structures improve the status quo.

Pedestrian islands present a helpful barrier from dangerous traffic

Pedestrian islands, also known as “refuge islands,” deliver safety support for those crossing busy streets. Usually, creating a pedestrian island involves placing a section of sidewalk in the middle of a wide and busy street. Not everyone can cross the street in time, leaving them vulnerable to oncoming traffic. Remaining on the island temporarily comes with some level of protection. A safe driver would likely steer clear of the island and anyone on it.

Chicago’s Humboldt Boulevard is known for a significant amount of traffic, and not all drivers adhere to traffic laws. Before the city built the islands, there were no “curb cuts” to make things safer. The new refuge islands may correct the problem, to a degree.

Roads come with dangers

One reason Humboldt Boulevard is so dangerous is the propensity for drivers to speed. Even with the islands, drivers may travel at unsafe speeds, increasing the chances of auto-pedestrian accidents. They might not stop in time when someone walks off the island.

Drivers could become distracted and not see the island. Other drivers might be under the influence and lose their sense of direction. While the islands are helpful, they cannot stop a car headed directly for them. Pedestrians standing on the island could get hit by a vehicle that drives onto it. Injured pedestrians may then have a personal injury lawsuit to pursue.