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How do you solve a problem like...an uncontrolled intersection?

The corner of Greenfield and Forest is currently one of the few remaining uncontrolled intersections in Oak Park. No stop signs from any direction. It's a residential T intersection that dead-ends into a large park, is one block north of a school, and is frequently congested with event parking for baseball/soccer games. The only crosswalk is the older style (faded) parallel bars. The walkways coming out of the park slope downward towards the street and don't feature any markings, ADA-compliant texture, etc.. The route features about 1,600 cars per day (800-1200 is typical for a residential street in the village) with speeds of 30 mph as drivers cut-through the neighborhood from major roads.

What to do?

The resident petition last night was for upgrading to an all-way stop. But there have been no crashes at the intersection in the last 3 years or in the village-wide traffic study from a decade ago. As I've discussed before on the blog, stop signs may be the cheap/obvious solution but they're not a standard, industry-accepted way to solve speeding issues because when unneeded they tend to have low compliance rates and frustrate drivers who then speed mid-block to make up the difference. Village staff was recommending bump outs on Greenfield where kids cross from the park.

This left us with some tough questions. There are other traffic problems in the neighborhood. There are similar crossings/intersections surrounding the park. It felt like a situation where a larger response regarding the traffic around the park is necessary, but delaying this one intersection for maybe something in the future isn't helpful to the immediate needs of these residents.

I had questions. Is there a larger fine for speeding in a marked park zone? What can we do to reach out to the Park District and cooperate on a plan for safety around the park for all users? Does some sort of parking plan need to be put in place to discourage drivers from unloading child passengers in the crosswalk? Should we make changes to the similar intersection immediately west on Greenfield?

A few measures were no-brainers. Marked, continental crosswalks. Better enforcement. There was support for recommending to the Village Board that Forest receive a stop sign heading northbound. And we managed to hammer out a temporary study of some bike-friendly bump outs on Greenfield which will be revisited in 6 months or so. My thought is that it should offer some protection for park users while we figure out how to improve the area more in the future. We'll see if the bump outs work.

My hope is that down the road we come up with a way to handle this park and others as far as calming traffic and improving safety. But I also think it should get some community input and have some collaboration with the Park District to get everybody in and out of our wonderful parks in the best way possible.

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