Ever since the Lexington Street shootout between two speeding cars last November, residents of southwest Oak Park have urged the village board to address increased criminal activity and dangerous driving in the area. The village’s most recent response is the installation of a temporary speed table in the 1150 block of Lexington Street between Harlem Avenue and Maple Avenue.

Speed tables are designed to limit vehicular speed. Not to be confused with speed bumps, speed tables are longer and have a flat top. The traffic calming device sits about three inches above the ground and the length of the table itself extends about 22 feet, making it long enough to support the entire wheelbase of a vehicle. The Lexington Street speed table is scheduled to be installed Thursday.

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“I think everybody in this area will be happy about it,” said neighbor Mike Baldwin, who has helped to coordinate much of the neighborhood’s outreach.

The speed table is one already owned by the village but in storage. The village board gave its verbal support for the calming device April 4 and approved a motion for its temporary installation May 2. Just how long the speed table will remain on Lexington is up to Village Manager Kevin Jackson, according to the motion. Jackson did not respond to request for comment.

Speed tables can become permanent fixtures, but the open-ended duration of this particular speed table concerned Baldwin’s neighbor Michael Pajonk, however. Pajonk wondered how the success of the speed table would be evaluated within an undefined timeframe.

“If you put this up for two weeks, two months, two years, and then remove it – what’s the point of doing that?” Pajonk asked.

As for how the efficacy of this speed table will be measured, Wednesday Journal awaits response from the village of Oak Park.

Baldwin did not share his neighbor’s concern for the transitory nature of the traffic calming device. Rather, it pleased him as temporary solutions are easy to abandon if they prove ineffective. He wished to see the village install more temporary devices.

Just two weeks ago Baldwin and his wife witnessed a road rage episode at the intersection of Wenonah Avenue and Lexington Street. One driver failed to stop at the Lexington stop sign, angering the other driver who was traveling on Wenonah. The latter driver took off after the former driver.

“On the street where they’re going to put the speed table, he sped up alongside the other [driver] on the wrong side of the road just to yell at him,” Baldwin recalled.

While that driver broke a traffic law to confront a driver who also broke a different traffic law, the situation is one of many instances of people practicing unsafe driving at elevated speeds on Lexington, according to Baldwin.

Some neighbors have suggested the village of Oak Park build cul de sacs along Harlem. However, Baldwin disagrees with that idea. He believes a cul de sac would only push the problem into another area of Oak Park rather than serve as an actual solution. Speed tables and other traffic calming devices, he said, will make Lexington unpleasant to drive on, thereby making it less attractive to people who speed. He is also interested in more stop signs along the street.

“I almost never drive down Garfield [Street] in Forest Park because it stinks. It’s a stop sign at every single block,” he said. “I want that here because then people will avoid it like I avoid Garfield.”

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