Comment 89419

By Noted (anonymous) | Posted June 08, 2013 at 12:08:23

The car’s status is so established that many question those who get in its way.

But after a century-long reign by the automobile, Chicago has overthrown its primacy.

The city, whose history and size often leads to comparisons with Toronto, unveiled a new policy this year which says explicitly that pedestrians are most important. Their needs are to be given default priority in the planning, building and maintenance of the city’s streetscape. The formal hierarchy puts transit second and bicycles third. Motor vehicles come last.

In Toronto – where huge transit plans threaten to overshadow simpler solutions for moving people, the mayor trumpets a pro-car line, and pedestrian collisions have been largely consistent for years – walking advocates and city staff are watching Chicago’s example keenly.

Prioritizing pedestrians is an innovative idea based on a simple reality: Nearly all residents walk.

“We’re committing to put the pedestrian first,” explains Gabe Klein, Chicago’s commissioner of transportation. “And that’s not just any pedestrian. That’s children, the elderly and disabled people. You design for them, it’ll inherently be safe for the rest of us.”

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