Secretary of state hopefuls on jaywalking, rolling stops for cyclists and driver exams
By Marni Pyke
Is it time to revisit jaywalking rules in Illinois and make safety for pedestrians and cyclists a focus in driver exams?
A majority of candidates running for secretary of state in the June 28 primary support those ideas suggested in a survey by the Active Transportation Alliance, Metropolitan Planning Council and Ride Illinois.
The groups questioned candidates about how the secretary of state can influence safety and equity for pedestrians and cyclists amid a nationwide spike in fatal crashes.
Contenders were asked if they support reviewing jaywalking rules and hefty fines that top $100. Former state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, Alderman David Moore and City Clerk Anna Valencia, all Chicago Democrats, and Republican state Rep. Dan Brady of Bloomington gave the concept strong support.
Republican John Milhiser of Springfield, a former federal prosecutor, supports the proposals but not strongly.
"We need to continually review rules, regulations and laws as they relate to driver and pedestrian safety to ensure that we stay up to date," Milhiser said.
"I'm opposed to disproportionate fines and fees related to violations like this. Such punishments are not imposed to protect pedestrians but instead to fill the coffers of the body that imposes the fine."
Democratic candidate Sidney Moore of Homewood, CEO of a not-for-profit company, did not respond to the survey.
Democrats and Republicans also were asked if driver's exams, which have a pool of 400 potential questions, should include specific ones about interacting with cyclists and pedestrians.
Milhiser supports the concept while Brady, Giannoulias, David Moore and Valencia strongly supported it.
"It's clear riders, drivers and pedestrians routinely ignore traffic rules, signs, patterns, and each other," Moore said. He cited Germany, where biking is popular and practices such as checking for cyclists before opening car doors are instinctive.
But in Illinois, "different modes of transportation are treated separately, with individuals viewing each other as the enemy, sources of irritation or danger. I would focus on education and qualifying tests requiring the understanding of shared spaces."
Another issue was how to address challenges such as public health, social and racial equity, and climate change.
"We should be expanding transportation options in the state, and we can do that by creating safe conditions -- sharing the roads with bikes for example, advertising and funding public transportation options, and even creating incentives for Illinoisans to do so," Valencia said.
"By doing this, people around our state could also have better access to jobs and pull down barriers."
Regarding whether the state should consider allowing cyclists to slow down and roll through stop signs if no traffic is present, the three Democrats strongly supported the idea and the two Republicans supported it.
"Provided there is no other traffic present, I support the ability of cyclists to roll stop signs," Giannoulias said. "However, when traffic is present, that practice can result in more accidents, and I would only support the rule when no other traffic is present."
And because "enforcement often falls on the backs of the people that can least afford to be penalized for violating these ordinances ... I would support changes to this law to significantly reduce or eliminate the fines."
Asked how they roll without cars, Brady bikes for shopping, errands, recreation and exercise.
Milhiser said he lives in "a walkable neighborhood, close to stores, restaurants, and downtown Springfield," and he routinely walks to destinations.
Giannoulias said he loves going on walks, especially with his daughters.
Moore said he biked for exercise and during biking events he organized as an alderman.
And Valencia walks "with my daughter to the park and nearby areas to meet for play dates, shopping, etc."
Expect delays nightly next weekend as the Illinois tollway closes ramps and lanes on Route 390 between I-290 and Rohlwing Road for road and bridge repairs starting 8 p.m. Friday.
One more thing
Pining to see a giraffe but don't want to drive? Starting Monday, Metra is adding midday and early evening stops at Hollywood Station on the BNSF Line, two blocks from Brookfield Zoo.