No new speed bumps for Oak Park

Village maintains ban against speed reduction devices

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

The installation of speed bumps and other similar speed-reduction devices will be considered on a case-by-case basis, following a decision by the Village Board of Trustees.

A policy, established in 1998, prohibits speed bumps in the village, and the village, at the recommendation of the Village Engineering Department, voted to maintain the policy, despite requests for speed bumps from residents.

Both Fire Chief Tom Ebsen and Police Chief Rick Tanksley oppose adding speed bumps on side streets to reduce speeding.

Ebsen said speed bumps can reduce by as much as 20 seconds the amount of time it takes emergency vehicles to reach their destination.

"Twenty seconds may not seem like a lot, but … we try to shave every single second we can; if we're trying to respond to a fire or a cardiac event or a traumatic injury, those seconds count."

Village President Anan Abu-Taleb, who voted in favor of maintaining the prohibition, recalled a devastating house fire in early May on the 800 block of South Clinton Avenue that destroyed one home and severely damaged two others.

If the 11 communities that sent fire trucks and emergency vehicles responding to the fire "had to go through those speed bumps, I think that would be much more difficult for them," Abu-Taleb said.

Ebsen said the speed bumps also are hard on the suspension of the heavy fire trucks and have an adverse effect on patients traveling in ambulances.

"We try to do everything we can to minimize movement [of patients]," he said.

Tanksley said the few existing, experimental speed bumps, speed cushions and speed tables — all of which aim to reduce speeding — have little impact on police response times compared to the fire department but more could have a cumulative effect.

"I would not have them," he said. "I would lean more toward directed enforcement."

Trustee Glen Brewer suggested that in addition to stepped-up enforcement, the village consider increasing the fines for speeding in residential areas.

Village Manager Cara Pavlicek said speed bumps could still be approved on a case-by-case basis by the village board, even if the prohibition remains in place.

Acting Village Engineer Bill McKenna said a few experimental speed bumps installed in the village on East Avenue have resulted in reduced traffic, but the village fire department complained and the bumps were altered into speed "cushions," which have gaps to allow emergency vehicles to pass through without slowing down.

"We didn't notice much of a speed reduction with those," McKenna told the village board.

According to a report issued to board members, there is growing pressure from residents for installation of speed bumps. The engineering department currently has requests for such traffic-calming devices on the 200 block of South East Avenue, the 1200 block of North Woodbine Avenue, the 600 block of South Lombard Avenue, and the 1200 block of North Columbian Avenue.


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Brian Slowiak from Westchester  

Posted: June 10th, 2014 2:34 PM

I cant speak for the OPFD, but I an quite confident that every member of The Oak Park Police Department with any meaningful time on the street, knows in advance what streets to use to avoid speed bumps,emergency or not.

Jack Chalabian from Oak Park  

Posted: June 10th, 2014 12:42 PM

Robert Pappalardo, thank you for your post.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: June 9th, 2014 2:50 PM

Robert - thank you for posting this. I am a big believer in speed bumps around every school and park in Oak Park. And for every time a parent encounters a disgruntled commuter around a school building, I can guarantee that that same parent does the same crap somewhere also. The best are when parents are driving a soon-to-be teenage driver that plows through a stop sign or red light. Lesson learned by anyone?

Robert Pappalardo from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 9th, 2014 2:31 PM

If there was any evidence of an active plan in place to reduce the number of speeders, I'd be okay with no speed humps. On Augusta, east of Ridgeland, traffic is frequently seen flying west and east across Austin. Making a left turn from Humphrey onto Augusta during rush hour? Better take your time. I've been chided by drivers laying on their horns and barreling toward me for attempting to do so. Whittier Elementary is situated along Augusta. While dropping off kids, parents will frequently encounter disgruntled commuters accelerate and veer around them. I've seen near misses with kids running across the street exiting vehicles. Often speeders are noticed flying past the school during the frequent games that take place at Whittier fields. It makes sense to try and slow traffic down here. There's far too much pedestrian traffic for zero traffic calming to be in place. Accidents involving kids have occurred along this route and plenty feel something needs to be done. Studies show, at an impact speed of 20mph a pedestrian's likelihood of fatal injury is 10%. Move the impact speed to 30mph and that number moves to 80%. And at 40mph the chances of resulting death go to 90%. This outlines why effectively placed speed humps which can maintain a rate of speed of 15-25mph are of benefit. As for adding 20 seconds to response time per speed hump, I respectfully disagree with OPFD. According to my research, the reduction in response time is no greater than 10 seconds per speed hump. If not speed humps, then let's employee speed cameras and issue tickets for violations. Not to say they aren't out there, but in my 4 years living on this street, I've never seen a squad car clocking for speeders. The three stop signs in place from Austin to Ridgeland are ineffective at slowing traffic because there is no method in place to enforce their use. Scare tactics were used by Oak Park to rationalize this decision.


Posted: June 5th, 2014 9:48 PM

Oak Park is a speed bump.

Mike from Oak Park  

Posted: June 5th, 2014 5:02 PM

They could really use some speed bumps near the intersection of North Blvd. and Kenilworth Ave. At night, many people seem to think the STOP signs are optional.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: June 5th, 2014 3:03 PM

And they cost $8,000 each.

Robert Milstein from Oak Park  

Posted: June 5th, 2014 1:39 PM

The research is clear...speed bumps are ineffective, hurt public safety and are being dumped in some communities across the country.

Paddy Boy  

Posted: June 5th, 2014 1:22 PM

If you think you like speed bumps just drive around Elmwood Park and you'll be glad we don't have them. Also let's get rid of the cul-de-sacs. They never did serve any reasonable purpose. If you want to reduce congestion just reduce the obstructions. I don't see all that many speeders and I'm out on the street quite a bit.

Lucy's Folks from Oak Park  

Posted: June 5th, 2014 6:37 AM

But apparently alleys can have speed bumps. The summer speed bumps just reappeared in the alley of the 200 block of South Cuyler. We'd like speed bumps in OUR alley, too! What do we have to do to get them???


Posted: June 4th, 2014 9:49 PM

For all of you in favor of speed bumps and other traffic slowing idiosyncrasies: IT'S THE 21ST. CENTURY AND THIS IS A FAST-PACED URBAN ENVIRONMENT. Take your horses and buggies and move to a small town that still has hitching posts!

OP Resident #649 from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 4th, 2014 9:14 PM

I have a novel ideal. If we can't have speed bumps, perhaps the police could actually enforce the traffic laws in the community? Write a few traffic tickets? They're obviously not too busy arresting the people shooting heroin in the McDonalds across the street from the police station and apparently now at Walgreens too so they should have plenty of time to deal with the traffic violations.

Other options first  

Posted: June 4th, 2014 8:59 PM

The police are usually good at responding to a request if you tell them you're having trouble with illegal turns, cars not stopping in crosswalks, etc.. I'd rather see us turn to speed cameras or the suggestion to raise fines in residential areas. Speed bumps are tacky--and I would add annoying to bicyclists to the list opposed. I would love to see some speed trailers that residents can get on a wait list for. Other regions have 100 day avg wait times they're so popular.

J Roy B from Oak Park  

Posted: June 4th, 2014 8:03 PM

I agree 100% with alberg. I would add, however, "No driving in the parking lane" signs as a major contributor to traffic congestion. If it takes three times as long to get anywhere in the Village, there will be three times as many cars on the road. This conversation is moot, however, since it is the stated objective of the Engineering division to slow down traffic as much as possible. (Congratulations on a job well done)(Sarcasm)

Jack Chalabian from Oak Park  

Posted: June 4th, 2014 6:17 PM

I think this sends a strong message to those who live on "local streets", if you have a problem with speeding, just fill the council chambers with your neighbors and SAY OUT LOUD, "WE WANT OUR STREETS BACK!" The details of my objection can be found in the 6/2 agenda. Look at the facts! The board did not! Instead, used emotion, as their basis to maintain the existing policy (at least five did). So Oak Parkers....fill that chamber ASAP! You will command the attention of your elected official

Jack Chalabian from Oak Park  

Posted: June 4th, 2014 6:09 PM

Just as an FYI, the updated policy would have addressed all of the Trustees concerns. I don't believe the majority of Trustees wanted to revise the policy. Point being, the final vote! Enforcement is moody. When our Police Dept. is there, traffic sloooowwwwsss down. When they leave for another "hotspot", speed increases on residential streets! To add "speed bumps" on a case-by-case basis, the board might just reclassify themselves as Traffic Engineers.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: June 4th, 2014 5:59 PM

Just an FYI, it was a 5-2 vote.

Dick Edwards from Oak Park  

Posted: June 4th, 2014 5:50 PM

I understand the police and fire chief's point of view. However, I've seen cars traveling 50 plus mph down East ave near Rehm park, going through stop signs. Several hit and runs over the years as well.

alberg from Oak Park  

Posted: June 4th, 2014 5:33 PM

With cul-de-sacs created to stop traffic from getting to major streets, no-turn-on-red signs all over at times nobody is walking, bicycle lanes on the few major streets instead of on residential streets a block over, and everything else any body could think up to slow traffic, CONGESTION IS TERRIBLE IN OAK PARK! People are now speeding on the side streets because it's the only place they can move. Great traffic engineering!!!

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