Since the pandemic began, we’ve been walking 5-7 miles every day, mostly through the streets of Oak Park. These daily tours of the village have acquainted us with a common motorist’s misstep: failing to stop at a stop sign.
Sometimes drivers will tap the breaks at a stop sign, but we’ve regularly seen cars blast through the stop signs without decreasing speed at all, sometimes while gazing at their mobile devices.
These are not isolated occurrences. I’d estimate that in Oak Park, more than half the cars do not come to a full stop at a stop sign.
This kind of reckless disregard for traffic signs is especially dangerous for people who ride their bicycles on the sidewalk. When you’re coming up fast on the sidewalk, it’s difficult for motorists to see you coming because though they’re usually looking both ways, but they’re looking at the streets, not the sidewalks.
Of course, people over the age of 10 probably should not be cycling on the sidewalks anyway, though we see it happening all the time, even in Downtown Oak Park. Obviously, aside from the danger to themselves, bicyclists on the sidewalks crowd out pedestrians, for whom the sidewalks were laid down in the first place. Unless a young child is riding the bike, the bike belongs in the street.
Both motorists who don’t stop for stop signs, as well as people who bicycle on the sidewalks, should be issued tickets. It doesn’t have to be a huge punishing monetary penalty, just enough to make an impression and maybe, just maybe save a few lives by encouraging drivers and cyclists to think a little more about what they’re doing. Or heck, just give them a warning, anything that will make them aware that they pose a significant public safety hazard.
So, Oak Park police, thank you for all you do, but please give out more tickets to scofflaws who don’t stop at stop signs or who cycle on sidewalks.
David Hammond, Oak Park