For all the vitriolic assurance of his language, Sam Roe demonstrates precious little understanding regarding the Woodbine-Division crosswalk situation, not least when it comes to the weasels of the Oak Park Transportation Commission and our purported role, or lack thereof, in these developments. [New stop sign cheaper than getting sued, Viewpoints, June 9]
In the first place, Roe’s statements suggest he has no real idea what role or purpose the transportation commission serves in village governance. We have no powers to make or implement policy, however much Roe apparently thinks otherwise. Nor are we elected officials, as he seems to believe.
In reality, the transportation commission is but one of many citizen bodies providing public input and advice to the village board. And this is precisely what we did in this situation. When the Woodbine-Division situation was brought before us at our April 26 meeting, we took public testimony, raised questions and arrived at a strongly worded recommendation to the village board that changes be implemented as quickly as possible. Our proposals included lowering speed limits along Division and substantially upgrading the existing crosswalk. These provided it, through flashing lights and other measures, far greater visibility. While most commissioners concurred with village engineers that a stop sign was a less preferable option in this instance, we agreed that the matter be revisited should these other measures prove insufficient. The matter was subsequently slated for the village board to take up at its June 7 meeting.
If Roe has any ideas as to what additional measures the commission might have taken at its next meeting, scheduled for May 24, I’d like to know what those are. But the charge that we somehow ducked our responsibilities in this instance is wholly without substance. We did all that we were empowered to do.
As for the cancellation of that May 24 meeting, I should acknowledge that I was the quorum-buster whose inability to attend forced its rescheduling. In this case, my wife was forced to work late and I was unable to arrange child care for our two young children. For all that, some people apparently would like to read a cynical ulterior motive into this cancellation; I can assure you the truth is neither that interesting nor dramatic. Like other Oak Parkers, people who serve on the commissions hold down jobs, we raise our kids, we juggle our schedules in the usual crazy-quilt ways, and we do the best we can.
And that gets back to the role of the commissions themselves, whose purpose Roe so badly misconstrues. Many of us serve on the transportation commission precisely because we want a more pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly environment in Oak Park. We, too, walk our kids to school, encountering in our own neighborhoods crosswalk problems similar to those at Woodbine and Division. To my mind, crosswalk visibility throughout much of Oak Park – most of all around our schools – remains a serious problem, as does police enforcement of Illinois law requiring that motorists yield to crosswalk pedestrians. If you share in these concerns, I can assure you that the transportation commission and its members would love your input and ideas.
While a stop sign now stands at Woodbine and Division, there’s a bigger story here, and it’s not over by a long shot.
John Abbott is an Oak Park resident and five-year member of the village’s transportation commission.