Alderman Gardiner seeks traffic safety improvements at Central-Catalpa intersection after recent accident
by BRIAN NADIG
Alderman James Gardiner (45 th) would like to see traffic safety improvements at or near the Central-Catalpa intersection following a June 7 accident there that reportedly left a 21-year-old bicyclist in critical condition after he was struck by a vehicle.
“My office is actively working with CDOT to address this very dangerous stretch of Central, and (we) ask all bicyclists to stay off of that street until we can create a safer environment,”
Gardiner recently posted on Facebook.
Gardiner said that the installation of a four-way stop at the intersection or flashing red warning lights should be considered as ways to “calm” traffic on Central. He added that there may not be room on Central for bike lanes.
The removal of rush-hour parking restrictions on Central also could help create a safer traffic pattern, as some motorists weave in and of the parking lanes during rush hour, Gardiner said.
Sometimes the city installs bump-outs, or curb extensions, to better define parking lanes that are closed at all times to through traffic.
About five years ago bump-outs were proposed for Central Avenue at Balmoral Avenue, which is one block south of Catalpa Avenue, but they were never installed.
Gardiner said that earlier this spring he requested a traffic study of the Central-Catalpa intersection due to a history of accidents in the area and the high number of children who cross Central due to the proximity of Farnsworth School, 5414 N. Linder Ave.
“We’ll take a fresh look at it and do a traffic count,” said city Department of Transportation spokeswoman Susan Hofer.
Any recommendations would take into account the fact that there are three signalized intersections within a few blocks of Central-Catalpa, Hofer said. Those traffic signals are at Bryn Mawr Avenue, Elston Avenue and Central Avenue.
It is unusual to have a four-way stop on a main thoroughfare, especially when in close proximity of a traffic signal, but there is a four-way stop in Jefferson Park at the Austin-Sunnyside intersection, where Sunnyside Avenue takes a slight jog.