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Transportation Commission update

As always, please note that I'm just one of 7 voices...

Parking Study

We had the rare opportunity to meet with our Board liaison, Trustee Tucker, at last night's commission meeting. It's helpful to get immediate feedback on our work, but usually there is a simultaneous board meeting he must attend. As part of a discussion about hiring a consultant, there needed to be a conversation about the Transportation Commission's role and appetite for more work relating to the Board's ongoing parking study. We already have a lot on our plate, but we've agreed to hold a few extra meetings. Especially with regard to seeking more public input on parking. Not to mention that we needed to be able to see eye-to-eye about the goals and anticipated outcomes of the parking study. I'm still deeply skeptical about that part. 

My own personal skepticism is not the timeline (it's refreshingly quick for Oak Park) nor the process itself. Rather, I think the process is putting the cart before the horse, so to speak. I have hesitation about 1) the need to put concrete proposals on the table as quickly as possible so the public can become more educated and invested in the possible outcomes 2) I question whether this year-long study will produce the kinds of sweeping reform/changes that I'd argue most Oak Parkers desire with regard to the parking problem. 

Which isn't to say there are easy solutions to Oak Park parking. I'm just of the opinion that incremental change is going to be seen by the public as falling short of what is really needed. Or maybe we'll see some big boat-rocking? I dunno. I'll believe it when I see it? One thing I didn't get a chance to say at last night's meeting but wanted to was this: I understand the desire to try to balance the various needs around the village. But at any given place/time it leads to confusion as everyone tries to understand why a regulation is there. It may be a very good reason (see below!), but if that reason isn't fairly obvious it causes problems. I'd almost suggest that rather than trying to constantly do a balancing act niche by niche, we make some broad generalizations. I've argued we need a Parking Mission Statement in the village to guide our principles. Do residents come first? Does business? Where do employees, visitors, commuters, etc. fit? 

Linden and Superior

One of the easiest pieces of business last night was recommending the upgrade of a two-way stop to a four-way stop at the intersection of Linden and Superior by OPRFHS. It was one of the rare times when staff was in agreement with a resident petition for the installation of stop signs and we only had one dissenting vote. Though we did have an interesting--but theoretical--chat about the nature, role, and spread of four-way stop signs in the village. Personally, I'm in favor of traffic control devices, but not everyone feels this way. 

I'd also note here that traffic enforcement around the high school was discussed along with my suggestion to add crosswalk bars to all four sides of the intersection (currently only two sides are marked) when the stop signs are installed. Little thing, but there's actually a decent amount of pedestrian traffic crossing there daily. 

Traffic Calming Toolbox

We've been talking about this one forever and it's finally finished! Well, mostly. It needs our final approval with last night's edits before sending the entire Toolbox to the Board for their approval to use. If you need a refresher, this is the system of public-facing information, scoring, data collection, and possible outcomes for residents who want to see a traffic need fixed. You have speeding and accidents or lots of traffic near a park and want something done? Here's our explicitly detailed process for analyzing your problem and deciding if traffic calming is needed--and what level of traffic calming that should be. 

It's a huge step forward for us and, hopefully, the people who come before us seeking help. We're now somewhat formalizing the way we quantify traffic data and have given ourselves some guidelines to help us decide what we do in response. Each petition that comes forward will have a numerical score attached to it (out of 100) and broken down by speed, volume, crashes, pedestrian generators, proximity to bike infrastructure, the level of support in the community, etc.. We're avoiding the use of that score for a given traffic calming response, but we can now see where the issues are coming from and tailor a solution based on a menu of less expensive, less invasive measures up to and including more expensive, more invasive traffic calming devices. 

One point of contention has been the possibility of speed bumps/tables in the village...there are already a few, but those did not come via a "normal" process. Staff is not recommending, previous Boards have had a hesitancy towards them, and we've recently solicited data and opinions from police/fire/public works that do not want to see them implemented. Of course, they are a valid solution and the community will see that they are being used elsewhere in the village. So we've chosen to keep them on the "menu." Further discussion is needed about limits to their use. Especially in light of emergency services stating that they would cause an approximately 10 second delay in ambulance response time. But, I also can see a street with a bad speeding problem say that the emergency delay is worth the 365 days of protection their street would get. It's all costs vs benefits. 

Mills Park Tower/Pleasant Place

(Following a recommendation from the Transportation Commission, the Board previously approved the addition of new overnight on-street parking near Mills Park Tower on Pleasant Place.) 

I would just point out that the change to Pleasant Place was done for very good reasons. It wasn't an oversight!

The se
ction of parking being discussed was one of the few remaining pieces of unregulated street in that overnight parking zone and was often abused by taxis. With the loss of the YMCA lot to development, we need more overnight spaces and that was a logical place. 

I look forward to the discussion and I hope we can work out some middle ground. But I also hope we remember that we're always balancing uses. At the very least, I hope we're not considering turning that section of street back into unrestricted parking. Perhaps the shared use concept could make it senior parking during the day and then overnight spots? I want to hear staff recommendations.