Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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The other day I was running errands and was dismayed to find that I had to repeatedly detour to get to my house because barriers blocked off two streets west of Ridgeland from North Avenue. That then makes three blocks in a row. I thought the village had a policy against adding new cul-de-sacs, especially on adjacent streets. If they don't, they should for several reasons:

The people who live off major streets were perfectly aware of the situation and made a choice. If there were some new construction that changed traffic patterns significantly, there might be a reason to change things but that isn't the case.

I live in the area and pay taxes and should have a right to use these streets which were built on a grid pattern.

When one street is blocked off, that just concentrates traffic on other streets, which isn't fair to the residents there. It can create a domino effect as they react to the increased traffic and demand closure.

Many residents of Oak Park are concerned about the deterioration of North Avenue. This is going to accelerate it because I (and I think others) will avoid a street where the traffic backs up too much and they can't turn off. I almost never drive on Roosevelt for that reason. If the customers go elsewhere, there will be more empty stores.

If people are concerned about kids and traffic, the fact is that kids must be taught not to go into streets no matter where you live. It only takes one car for an accident.

If people want to live on private streets they should move to Riverside or some other suburb built on that plan.

Please think in terms of the entire community.

Joyce Porter

Oak Park

Reader Comments

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Dan on North Avenue  

Posted: October 3rd, 2013 6:48 AM

Consider the North Ave traffic and all the east/west traffic thru VOP during rush hour and ask if more traffic flow on the IKE would reduce street traffic in VOP? People want to reduce their commute time and will search for the best option. If keeping commuters on North Ave is a good idea, then keeping them on the IKE is a better idea. Think regionally rather than block by block.

Thanks Bill!  

Posted: October 2nd, 2013 3:28 PM

I always used to take whatever little road I was closest to but, on your suggestion, I tried Columbian. It worked great. I'm definitely going to make it a regular part of my route in the future. Hopefully the folks who live on Columbian won't mind picking up the traffic load from the neighboring streets.

been there  

Posted: October 1st, 2013 9:54 PM

A few years ago some folks on our street wanted a cul-de-sac. I spoke with someone at the village to ask about the rationale for granting cul-de-sacs. We have non-residential traffic on our street, including trucks. I was told that the best way to manage traffic is to give multiple options & that funneling all traffic onto a few streets, even bigger ones like North Ave, is really not a good idea. Now North Ave is the only option for several blocks - and the backup are longer than ever.


Posted: September 25th, 2013 11:28 AM

The only flaw in your logic, OP Transplant, is that traffic shouldn't be on the "other" streets after being blocked on another. Agreed, your point about the village needing to do more to keep everybody's street quiet and safe. BUT let's put the blame back where it really belongs which is motorists illegally rat-running on residential streets that are not intended as thru. Let's not blame the victim.

OP Transplant  

Posted: September 25th, 2013 9:24 AM

Bill-My contention remains that closing streets or making them one way out only diverts traffic onto other streets. The village increases the safety and convenience of the residents of one block by decreasing the safety and convenience of their neighbors. If there were some grand. overall traffic plan, I'd say those were just the breaks. I don't think there is, though. Some residents experience reduced quality of life so others can benefit.

Bill from Oak Park   

Posted: September 24th, 2013 11:55 PM

@op transplant. Have you ever gone down the streets in question? You will end up on Ridgeland and avoid the light. That's it. Greenfield going east is a forced turn south onto Ridgeland. East on Le Moyne brings you to Ridgeland. From there you can go south or wait to cross RIdgeland and proceed on Le Moyne which is a dead end at Austin. So why can't we have one way out when so many streets actually are cul-de-sacked at North ave.? You can always use the light at Columbian.

wrong side of town  

Posted: September 24th, 2013 9:39 PM

Interesting how on the north side of town it is so important to keep traffic off the residential streets, but every time there's anything happening on Lake St, everything - including CTA busses - gets routed onto the adjacent residential streets. I also have seen the barriers along North Ave and think they so not belong there. Streets are public places not private property. North Ave was there when they bought their houses.

OP Transplant  

Posted: September 23rd, 2013 7:07 PM

Agree with the "should be" part. Drivers don't always use the roads as intended though, which is why I see non-local drivers blowing down Augusta like it's the Eisenhower during rush hour.


Posted: September 23rd, 2013 2:41 PM

The basic hierarchy of road design means some roads should be...I wouldn't say inaccessible. But there are arterial streets. And collector streets. And local streets. By definition, traffic from North Ave needs to be kept there until it gets to a feeder like Oak Park or Ridgeland. It's the same way you shouldn't be using, say, Iowa as a thru when you have Augusta, Division, Chicago. Traffic should be kept to intended use.

OP Transplant  

Posted: September 23rd, 2013 2:34 PM

Bill - It's probably true that some drivers are just trying to avoid the lights on North Ave, but it's also true that some are looking for smaller residential east-west streets to avoid North altogether. Making some streets accessible and others inaccessible just concentrates traffic onto the accessible streets. I know, because I sometimes do it, and I'm not alone.

Bill from Oak Park  

Posted: September 23rd, 2013 1:00 PM

@OP Transplant. I'm saying that the Rossell and Elmwood barriers keep out many cars that use those streets to avoid the light at North and Narragansett. Who really needs to go south on those two streets? Probably the residents. And my habit is get off North Ave and take Columbian into OP. Who wants to spend any time on North Ave? Since I live in the neighborhood, I don't speed down Columbian like a maniac because I just spent 15 minutes in North Ave.traffic. Explain how this really effects


Posted: September 23rd, 2013 12:53 PM

If I heard more voices calling for more big-picture solutions to our traffic flow, pedestrian safety, etc. I might agree with you. As it is right now, the only voices in the conversation are the people who speak up for their street. I know the Trans Comm has longterm studies of certain streets in their workplan. But that doesn't help solve anything in the near future. It shouldn't have to take years for people to get safety problems solved on their block. I'm all for pushing to do more.

OP Transplant  

Posted: September 23rd, 2013 12:35 PM

Engineering - Is it possible that you really don't see how the "me first" attitude of villagers like yourself makes it nearly impossible for village government to implement big-picture solutions?


Posted: September 23rd, 2013 11:26 AM

If the village can't come up with a more system-wide way to keep traffic off the side streets, it's logical to listen to the most vocal residents who want a local solution. I don't think it's selfish. You can complain if you want, but the squeaky wheel usually gets the grease. That's just the way the world works. There are better solutions, but that's going to require major action from VOP. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't see that happening soon.

OP Transplant  

Posted: September 23rd, 2013 10:11 AM

Engineering - If improving your own block means concentrating traffic on your neighbor's block. then it's a selfish act. I'm not jealous. I live on a low-traffic block, and my kids are grown. I just hate to see this "if you didn't want to get screwed over, you should have done it first" attitude in a village as small as OP. Have you defined community so narrowly that anyone not on your block is unworthy of consideration?


Posted: September 23rd, 2013 9:49 AM

OP Transplant, my point was that instead of complaining, everyone should take action to improve their own block. Don't be jealous--get together to fix the other streets. Just like your better-organized neighbors did.

OP Transplant  

Posted: September 23rd, 2013 9:16 AM

Engineering - "Sour grapes" that the families two blocks over want their kids to be safer, too? I think the people two blocks over made the right call. Better to live on high-traffic street than to live near you.


Posted: September 23rd, 2013 8:24 AM

The village needs a more complete solution to keeping traffic on the busy streets and off the side streets. But until that happens, it's just sour grapes that one street fought for their block first (or at all). If 2 streets over is getting more traffic now, that street needs to get the village to do something about it on their block, too.

OP Transplant  

Posted: September 23rd, 2013 8:05 AM

You can't reduce the number of cars. So, if you divert cars from Street A, you force them to drive down Street B. This is a pretty bad deal for the families who live on Street B, who might not like seeing their own traffic increase just to reduce their neighbors' traffic If the solution to a problem is to screw over someone else, it's a poor solution.

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: September 21st, 2013 10:26 PM

I was around when they put a cul-de-sac on south Lombard at Roosevelt. As Lombard was a thru street from South Blvd. it had more traffic. By diverting the traffic it has now made all the smaller side streets busier. Good for them, lousy for the rest of us.

Resident from Busy Street  

Posted: September 21st, 2013 5:33 PM

Doesn't it make more sense to spread out the traffic?

LiquidEvil from Oak Park  

Posted: September 21st, 2013 3:59 PM

None of which says the existing diverters are a bad idea. Removing them will just cause more traffic on *all* the side streets as people filter through to avoid the North ave traffic jams.

Resident from A Busy Side Street  

Posted: September 21st, 2013 3:39 PM

Traffic diverters steer the traffic to the big streets AND to the few side streets that do not have diverters.There are drivers who make it their mission to avoid the big streets and instead barrel down side streets that aren't wide enough for moving cars to pass on when there are cars parked on either side. Then they roll through the stop sign, etc., etc. Accident waiting to happen, especially when you add the bikers, joggers, kids plugged into i-things, etc.

LiquidEvil from Oak Park  

Posted: September 21st, 2013 12:24 PM

What's the big deal? Traffic diverters just keep the traffic on the larger streets like North ave, Oak Park and Ridgeland. And I say this as someone who lives on a street with a traffic diverter and gets stuck in North Ave traffic twice a day every day.

Dan on North Avenue  

Posted: September 20th, 2013 6:05 PM

Basically these traffic controls go up when residents complain and demand action, so VOP goes along, block by block on an ad-hoc basis, until the absolute lack of planning and coordination becomes apparent to those residents who suffer from not being the first to complain. You can't just keep piling on the same old restrictions to address the issues. We need some new leadership and ideas from our village staff.


Posted: September 20th, 2013 4:23 PM

Plus, the orange sign looks horrible on Elmwood. Do they plan for a permanent diverter? Even when there is a real one like on Maple by Rush Hospital you can drive around it no problem though. Other towns have solved this problem with retractable bollards that only allow access to authorized local residents. I say traffic spikes! lol Do not enter or your tires are toast.

OP Transplant  

Posted: September 20th, 2013 3:30 PM

Bil - If I'm understanding you, you're suggesting that the barricades that allow northbound traffic to turn onto North Ave but don't allow cars to turn south from North Ave into Oak Park don't affect other streets. My experience is that they actually force drivers wishing to turn south into OP to concentrate onto the streets that don't have the barriers, effectively increasing traffic on those streets. Good for the residents who have the barriers, bad for those who don't.

Bil from Oak Park  

Posted: September 20th, 2013 11:42 AM

Sorry to stomp on the "clever" humor, but the new barricades at North and Rossell and Elmwood are not cul-de sacs. They are one way out. Their purpose is to keep traffic on North Avenue. Doubt any street or resident in Oak Park is impacted, unless you are trying to avoid the light at North and Narragansett.


Posted: September 20th, 2013 11:19 AM

We need to start looking internationally at all the street design and traffic control elements being used there. Cul-de-sacs are just one traffic calming device when really there are hundreds of ideas to choose from. And, dare I say it, an expensive ticket from a speed camera would make some of these lawbreakers think twice before cutting through in a hurry. Plus the village makes money.

Sidney Thurston  

Posted: September 20th, 2013 10:45 AM

Remember the Chevy Chase movie, Funny Farm? He moves to a community based on its reputation, learns the place is just the opposite, and must pay everyone in town off in order to sell the place to the next sucker. This was our experience, and this letter is what 2013 OP is. Bookend it with the punitive 0.8% real estate transfer tax. I look forward to peeking in to hear the hand-wringing about the Austin population trick-or-treating in OP.

OP Transplant  

Posted: September 20th, 2013 9:47 AM

If you have the same number of cars and the same number of streets, it seems to me that you can't really reduce traffic. Cul-de-sacs and stop signs only reroute cars to someone else's block. If we can't help ourselves without crapping on our neighbors, it might just be time to take the hit and admit that we live in a very crowded place, and that traffic and parking problems are natural results of living in a crowded place.

Grumpy Old Man from SNL  

Posted: September 20th, 2013 9:32 AM

When I was your age, we didn't have no cul-dee-sacks. Flibble-dy-floo. Why we'd run out on the street, dodgin' street cars while playin' stickball and doin' the charleston until we got run over. And this was after spending the whole day in a 120 degree classroom with no windows. And you know why? Cause we were idiots, that's why. Just a bunch of fools sweatin' til we passed out then runnin' out into traffic chasin' after balls. And we liked it!

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 20th, 2013 12:05 AM

Kids, the streets and their parents who grew up without cul de sacs don't think they can raise their own kids as well as their parents did. It takes a village to keep a kid out of traffic, not a responsible parent who is on the phone. When Oak Park was welcoming all Races, they closed Austin streets to keep people out. Count how many cul de sacs Oak Park has on Harlem avenue from North avenue to Roosevelt road. Kids grow up, parents move out, and the next family wants easy access to their home.

OP Transplant  

Posted: September 19th, 2013 4:25 PM

I want as little traffic as possible on my street, and the streets I use frequently. Every other street can go to hell. Why is that so hard to understand?

Civil Engineer from Cook County  

Posted: September 19th, 2013 3:28 PM

All streets should be cul-de-sacs, including highways.


Posted: September 19th, 2013 2:52 PM

@Done-Speed bumps might be a good idea for some of these side streets off North. The only speed bump in OP I'm aware of is the "Speed Table" the 200 block S East (see Google Maps street view). Probably doesn't have the height you're looking for, though. Less traffic but more skateboarders? Check out how 1200 Woodbine's request went earlier this year:

Resident from A Busy Side Street  

Posted: September 19th, 2013 1:27 PM

It is worth emphasizing that blocking off access to some side streets only boosts traffic on others, creating unintended raceways that are unsafe for the hundreds of small children who live on these blocks. We actually choose our block when our kids were toddlers because we hoped it would be safer but soon realized we had landed on a block that receives lots of diverted traffic. Should have saved the $ and bought the house on Oak Park Ave.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: September 19th, 2013 1:22 PM

I for one need to start the drive - no pun intended - to figure out how to get speed bumps on our street. Want ones a foot high in front of each stop sign at each end of the street and who wants to bet that people still won't stop for them because they'll need to pick up a head of steam to get over them?

Or maybe Joyce needs to move to a suburb where drivers are the priority?  

Posted: September 19th, 2013 11:34 AM

When we all moved to Oak Park, we realized this was a walking community. And to make Oak Park walkable, we can't build millions of thoroughfares. I live one block off of Ridgeland, and people drive 50 mph down my street. It's crazy, and it's because drivers are impatient and disrespectful of residents. Thus, the concern to slow down or divert traffic. Also, Joyce, when's the last time you tried to keep a curious toddler from running in the street? Sounds like it's been awhile. It happens fast!

Not the bad guys  

Posted: September 19th, 2013 10:35 AM

Lots of the tension over traffic control seems to come from the village (correctly) listening to locals about what to do with their street. But then the general population complains about it being confusing or poor planning when really the residents of a street have rightly campaigned for safety or eliminating an ongoing issue. I like that village is responsive to neighborhood concerns, personally. The greater traffic flow may suffer, but the people who live there should matter first.

Bill from Oak Park  

Posted: September 19th, 2013 9:57 AM

to @Muntz. "No right turn" would work very well. But I feel like we have to hold on to the blocked lane in light of all the other streets (read NW Oak Park along North Ave.) Since the village has no uniform standards for deciding when to block a street, why are we on Rossell and Elmwood the bad guys for wanting what so many other street (Kenilworth, Marion,Edmer, and many more) have?


Posted: September 18th, 2013 10:47 AM

@Bill-Would "No Right Turn" during rush hours (similar to those on Harlem preventing cut-through traffic in RF) help? The whole Ridgeland-Narragansett-North intersection is poorly engineered to begin with. Perhaps a dedicated right-hand turn lane from EB North to SB Ridgeland, including a dedicated right turn signal, would help.

Bill from Oak Park  

Posted: September 17th, 2013 5:15 PM

To start, I benefit from one of those blockades. It is not a cul-de sac, because you can leave the streets and go north. Just can't avoid the light at Narragansett and head south on our street. It has made our street safer. I have had people pass me on the left as I was turning left into my driveway. Real crazy fast driving prompted this. If the village wants to get rid of them, then the village should define uniform measurable criteria for all blocked streets and apply as appropriate.

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: September 16th, 2013 1:15 PM

The problem with adding cul-de-sacs is that it benefits a few who benefit from decreased traffic on their street but aggravates others who live in areas where the traffic is now diverted too. I'm for leaving the streets the way they are. The kids have playgrounds to play in.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: September 16th, 2013 12:38 PM

I favor cul-de-sacking OP in the form of a maze. That right; cul-de-sacs right in the middle of the village, across Oak Park Ave and Ridgeland, and Lake. When those cutting through OP, drivers will be forced to pull over and park with a map on their lap, make U-turns, drive across lawns, etc. That's where the Maze Police come in. Those lost in the maze will get tickets. Residents will get a discount on the cost of tickets.

Mike Ptack from Oak Park  

Posted: September 16th, 2013 11:08 AM

I live on the 1100 block of South Harvey. People on the neighboring street, Highland are attempting to get a Cul-de-sac built to block off their street. They know traffic will be diverted so they are trying to get the residents on Harvey to agree by proposing a diverter on the south end of Harvey. They tore the Berlin wall down. I guess they want to rebuild it here in Oak Park.


Posted: September 11th, 2013 9:25 PM

Joyce - It looks like you'll have your chance to express your concerns at the TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION MEETING on 7/22. The agenda states: SIX MONTH "AFTER" REVIEW OF TEST STREET CLOSURES ON THE 1200 BLOCKS OF N ELMWOOD AND ROSSELL AVENUES. I'm guessing that's what you're talking about.

OP Dude  

Posted: September 11th, 2013 2:45 PM

cont... are the increasing amount of pawn stores that lower the desirability of the area. Who's going to want to open a quaint little coffee shop or boutique next to a EZ Pawn? I think YOU should think about the entire community, and not just your gripe with car convenience.

OP Dude  

Posted: September 11th, 2013 2:42 PM

Joyce, there are plenty more streets that allow one to enter Oak Park off of North ave. One of the cup-de-sacks is where Wonder Works is, and though parents should teach kids not to run into the street, a lot of kids do come an go from WW, and this actually makes sense there. IT doesn't keep people out of Oak Park. If one wants to drive in, there are plenty of other streets. If one walks, they can still walk in. This will not affect north ave businesses. What DOES affect the businesses cont...

I completely agree  

Posted: September 11th, 2013 1:45 PM

I am sorry Joyce, but this is the Oak Park way. We say we are welcoming and inclusive and then close off all of the streets to our borders. Sorry only those that edge "undesirable neighborhoods." Just wait till they close off Harlem avenue to those River Foresters.

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