In a tight vote Oct. 7, the village board denied requests to install temporary pinch points to mitigate high-speed driving in the residential blocks of 500 and 600 North Euclid Avenue.  

Julie Noonan, one of four residents who addressed the board on the issue, believes installing a pinch point is a public safety necessity. “We have over 10 children under the age of 12 in our block who regularly play out in front,” Noonan said.

Noonan’s family offered to host a temporary pinch point in their front yard to determine effectiveness of such devices. The Walter Music House agreed to host the other. 

At a recent block party, Noonan said, a white Nissan SUV sped through the barricades. “It was terrifying; it was horrifying. I cannot even tell you as a mother how thankful we were that day to have the bounce house and the kids safely inside of it,” she said.

Resident Alice Godfrey, in a public comment, also volunteered to host a temporary pinch point. 

Ken Wiley, another resident, said the traffic on North Euclid Avenue is a byproduct of Oak Park Avenue. “The primary cause of that problem is the inability of Oak Park Avenue to carry the traffic load that is coming through the village in a north-south direction,” said Wiley.

Trustee Deno Andrews disagreed with putting in a pinch point, temporary or otherwise. “I think these pinch points are going to cause more accidents and I don’t think they’re going to slow anybody down,” he said. “I think it’s bad for first responders and for kids riding their bicycles.” 

Trustee Susan Buchanan said, “Deno, I appreciate your personal experience, but we have a transportation commission and engineering and public works staff who recommend these pinch points.”

Andrews replied, “Sure, good for them. Firsthand experience is really important.” He also cited a lack of data confirming efficacy of pinch points. “I think it’s a dangerous thing to put in the middle of the village.”

The commission wouldn’t have recommended them if they were dangerous, Buchanan countered.

Oak Park has two pinch points already, recently installed in the 1200 blocks of Lombard and Taylor avenues. According to village engineer Bill McKenna, the village hasn’t had a chance to collect data on their effectiveness. Nationwide, McKenna said, pinch points “have shown to be a fairly effective tool for slowing traffic on a residential street.”

McKenna said temporary pinch points cost the town around $5,000, including the purchase of delineator posts with reflective tape and installation. 

The board also rejected sending the transportation commission’s recommendation to install a pinch point or brick street in the 500 and 600 blocks of North Euclid Avenue to the Historic Preservation Commission. Buchanan was the only trustee who voted in favor of that move. 

“We asked the board to refer it to the Historic Preservation Commission because it’s in the Frank Lloyd Wright Historic District, and a pinch point or brick street can alter the character of that area,” said McKenna. “We wanted them to look at it from that perspective before presenting it in front of the board for an actual decision on the permanent traffic-calming measure.” 

The board rejected both the installation of temporary pinch points and the request to refer recommendations to the Historic Preservation Commission on North Euclid Avenue.

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