On Aug. 1, the Oak Park Village Board was set to consider the petition of the 500 and 600 blocks of North Taylor Avenue, based on the recommendation of the Transportation Commission. The commission also unanimously approved a second recommendation to the village board at the same time as the one under consideration, on my motion, stating:
“Given recent concerns over traffic safety and public safety, especially around the periphery of Oak Park and along its busy arterial and collector lanes; this petition reflects resident concerns the Transportation Commission has seen from across Oak Park. We recommend the village board direct staff to generate a systematic approach to slowing traffic and improving safety in the village.”
While the gun violence concerns present in the petition by our neighbors on North Taylor Street are not repeated with the same urgency across the village, the concerns regarding speeding cars, ignored stop signs, and threats to pedestrian safety are a constant across our community. My motion recommending that the village board direct staff to generate a systematic approach to resolving these issues is motivated by a recognition that addressing these community-wide concerns on a block-by-block basis is neither an efficient use of village resources (funds and staff time) nor an equitable approach to an issue that is impacting our entire community.
I urge the village board to work with staff and put together a comprehensive approach to evaluating community needs and desires regarding transportation infrastructure, in all of its modes. Then, based upon that evaluation, staff needs to develop a comprehensive plan that evolves our current transportation infrastructure to slow down vehicle traffic in order to improve safety and accessibility for people on bike, on foot, or using mobility devices. Finally, the village board needs to approve and fund an implementation plan to make this accessible and inclusive infrastructure plan a reality.
In addition to improving safety for our residents, taking this approach to resolving our neighbors’ concerns related to dangerous traffic conditions will, ultimately, benefit local businesses and help in the board’s efforts to make Oak Park a destination — rather than just another community that commuters speed through at rush hour.