Tagspeed table

There are many kinds of shared space

A guy standing in the middle of the intersection

I took this photo outside the café Memory Lane in Rotterdam because the man in the white shirt was standing in the “middle” of this intersection for a couple of minutes. Before he took this position, he was walking slowly across the intersection to the opposite corner as his car. He’s a livery driver, and he appeared to be waiting for his passenger.

This intersection is raised (the sidewalk is level with the road surface), and is uncontrolled (there are no traffic signals, stop signs, or yield signs). A bicyclist or motorist can pass through this intersection without having to stop unless someone is walking, or a bike or car is coming from their right.

This junction has no crosswalks, either. And no one honks. Especially not at the man who’s in the roadway.

Because he’s not in the roadway. He’s in a street, and streets are different. Streets are places for gathering, socializing, eating, connecting, traveling, and shopping. There was plenty of space for him to stand here, and for everyone else – including other motorists who were in their cars – to go about their business.

The first raised crosswalk I’ve seen in Illinois

The raised crosswalk, a view looking northeast, from the sidewalk. 

Forest Park was a client of mine in 2012 via my work for Active Transportation Alliance; they’re a technical consultant for cities that had grants from the Communities Putting Prevention to Work program. I visited the village with one of their staffers to identify great locations for bike racks (that also included advice on their existing rack inventory, and suggestions for exactly which models to buy).

We would drive around town and then stop and walk a lot. One place where we did a lot of walking was in their downtown, on Madison Street (the same Madison Street as in Chicago). I was pleasantly surprised that their signage reflected the “stop for pedestrians in crosswalk” law, replacing the now-irrelevant “yield for pedestrians in crosswalk” signs. And to top it off, they had talking and lighted signals at some of the crosswalks. I do not support any widespread installation of these: I think they help move our culture in a direction that perpetuates the low respect we have for pedestrians. I believe there are other ways to enforce driver compliance that do not require this kind of equipment.

Forest Park has installed one of those ways: it’s a raised crosswalk (also known as a speed table). It looks like a speed hump, but is much wider, has a flat top, and carries a marked crosswalk (see my article on Grid Chicago “What is an unmarked crosswalk?“). It causes drivers to slow down and has an added – subjective – benefit of intimating that the driver is entering a “protected space”, one for people on foot and that it should be respected. They bring the roadway up to the pedestrian’s level instead of dipping the sidewalk down to the driver’s level.

I don’t know of one in Chicago, but three guys are working to get several installed in a Logan Square traffic circle redesign.

Note: If you are interested in knowing exactly which models of bike racks to buy, learn more at Simple Bike Parking, or contact me directly. I may charge a fee.

The raised crosswalk as seen from a car moving westbound. 

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