Evanston’s City Council holds a special meeting next week to get a report from city officials on how to improve pedestrian safety.

While much of the attention in the report is expected to focus on improving safety at school crosswalks, one conclusion from data gathered for the report is that children are the least likely age group to be victims of pedestrian accidents in Evanston.

City officials broke down accident numbers by age group over the past three years. Comparing those to 2010 federal census data for Evanston shows that for their share of the population, young people are less than half as likely to be the victim of a pedestrian traffic accident.

Youngsters make up nearly 25 percent of the city’s population, but were victims in under 12 percent of the pedestrian accidents over the last three years for which victim age information was available.

By contrast, young adults and older adults are more likely to be struck by a car while out walking than their share of the city’s popuation would predict.

It’s unclear from the city’s data whether the disparity means that school crosswalk and crossing guard programs are keeping kids safer, or whether they simply walk less than adults do in circumstances that expose them to vehicle traffic.

There also are slight variations in the age classifications used by the city and census data. For example, the city data sets the boundary between children and young adults at age 18, while the census data makes age 19 the dividing line. And the city data sets the boundary between young and older adults at 53, while the census places the break at 54.

City officials note that the number of pedestrian accidents on the streets has decreased in recent years — from 67 in 2009 to 52 in 2011.

They credit a variety of steps for the gains — from improved signage and traffic enforcement activites to road resurfacing projects and traffic signal upgrades.

Sixteen intersections that don’t have traffic signals or stop signs are now being reviewed for possible pedestrian crossing upgrades. They are:

  • Asbury Avenue at Grove Street.
  • Central Street at Broadway Avenue.
  • Chicago Avenue between Greenleaf and Lee streets.
  • Church Street at Wesley Avenue.
  • Crawford Avenue at Thayer Street.
  • Dodge Avenue between Main and Oakton streets.
  • Emerson Street at Oak Avenue.
  • Hartrey Avenue in the 1200 block.
  • Grant Street at Cartright Park.
  • Grove Street at Elmwood Avenue.
  • Main Street at Custer Avenue.
  • Main Street near Pitner Avenue.
  • Oakton Street at Barton Avenue.
  • Oakton Street at Hartrey Avenue.
  • Oakton Street at Florence Avenue.
  • Ridge Avenue at Colfax Street.

Improvements could range from adding new signs to creating bumpouts to reduce the width of the roadway pedestrians have to cross.

The special City Council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 6, at the Civic Center.

Above: A solar-powered flashing crosswalk sign that may be among the new pedestrian safety measures coming to Evanston.

Related document

Pedestrian safety presentation (.pdf)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Another explanation

    Another explanation for lower rates among youth is that if the data is including children from newborn to say ten years old or so, while they may be included in the 25 percent of the youth population, they are less likely to be out and about on the streets, especially more heavy-traffic steets.

    I would also venture to guess that adults that have children in their care are much more cautious when crossing streets with children, then when they are by themselves or with other adults.  When you are with a child, is probably more likely to look both ways, hold the child's hand, cross at intersections, etc.  Adults on their own are probably more likely to jay walk, not check traffic as dillegently, etc.

  2. A politically impossible question

    What is an acceptable rate of fatality or injury?

    As long as we have cars and pedestrians, we will have them colliding once in awhile.  How can an alderman ever look at the stats and say the rate of fatalities is acceptable?  Yet if we allow cars and pedestrians, then we are accepting the fact that there will be fatalities.  It is an uncomfortable fact which I cannot see being dealt with in a rational way in a public forum.

  3. Pedestrian accidents

    For whatever reason Evanston seems to have developed a sizeable group of aggressive adult pedestrians who seem intent on showing traffic that they are the boss, by not pausing at corners or exercising even a minimum of common courtesy toward drivers.  Apparently believing that the recent law change provides them with a license to stop traffic, they are rolling the dice over their lives and chancing making a driver a victim of their selfishness.  

    I have to suspect that this may have something to do with the noted statistics, because most children are well taught in school to observe crossing safety.  Apparrently a lot of the adults have forgotton….

    1. Pedestrians have the right of way!

      Actually, the recent law DOES give pedestrians license to stop traffic. Get over it!

      1. Actually it provides

        Actually it provides encouragement for fools to commit "suicide by car" and provides a mechanism by which responsibility can easily be shifted to someone else.  

        And yes, pedestrians DO have responsibilities – such as ensuring that it is safe to enter the street at the moment they step off the curb, and drivers do NOT have to stop for pedestrians on the curb, waiting to cross.  

        Bicyclists especially need to take note of reality, since they are NOT pedestrians under the law – they are vehicles and must obey all traffic laws and signs – exactly the same as cars.  Blow a stop sigh and get hit by a car and it's YOUR fault!

  4. Texting

    Tonight on the news there was a report that emergency rooms are seeing a great increase in injuries due to texting and other forms of inattention when walking…… Maybe this should be looked at.

  5. Crossing

    I am a young adult, 18. Yes I walk and text BUT I do not walk and text while crossing the street. With that being said trying to cross Central and Gross Point Road walking South or West is impossible. Taking the bus home from school and having to cross this intersection, I honestly have almost gotten hit every time, NOT because I was texting or crossing when I was not suppose to, but the drivers who don't pay attention to pedestrians. That intersection is known for drivers to turn right at the red light without looking for cars or even pedestrians.

    Another intersection that is terrible is Gross Point Road and Old Orchard Road. True story; Walking home from the bus stop one day, I was crossing the road when the light was green going West and East and this lady starts honking at me, eventually rolls down her window and starts yelling at me because I was crossing the street. She was turning on to Gross Point Road from Old Orchard Road going north. She had a green light and I was able to walk. I don’t know what was up with her but she clearly doesn’t understand that us pedestrians have the right away. Also, crossing that intersection is impossible. When cars turn on Old Orchard Road from Gross Point Road, half of them don’t even watch for pedestrians they just go and turn.

    I believe that no matter what is done to keep pedestrians safe; drivers will still be the problem. Me being a young adult I see a lot of young adults, adults and others walk and text BUT at the same time drivers are driving and texting or doing something that distracts them from the road. The main focus should be on drivers and making sure that they don’t distract themselves while they are driving.

  6. Stopping traffic

    The only time traffic is required to yield to a pedestrian is when the pedestrian is IN the crosswalk. State law prohibits a pedestrian from abruptly leaving the curb. The vehicle code states:


    (625 ILCS 5/11-1002) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 11-1002)
        Sec. 11-1002. Pedestrians' right-of-way at crosswalks.

        (a) When traffic control signals are not in place or not in operation the driver of a vehicle shall stop and yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling, or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger.

        (b) No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a moving vehicle which is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.

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