Road deaths are on the rise this year. How does Chicago’s segregation affect security? | Latin Voice | Chicago News
Another name has been added to the grim tally of car-related deaths in Chicago after a driver hit and killed a 44-year-old cyclist Samuel Bell in the River West neighborhood on September 8.
Estimates of the National Highway Safety Administration indicate that traffic death rates are the highest in 20 years. The agency estimates that more than 9,500 people in the United States were killed in car crashes during the first quarter of 2022, up 7% from the same period in 2021. Of those deaths, 280 are are produced in Illinois and at least 35 in Chicago, according to the city data portal.
José Miguel Acosta Córdova, Senior Transport Policy Analyst at the Small Village Environmental Justice Organization, says traffic-calming devices like speed bumps, medians and protected bike lanes aren’t always popular with motorists, but they increase road user safety simply because they slow down the drivers. But they are also applied unevenly across the city.
“On the north side there are a lot more of these traffic calming devices. You look at the south and west sides that’s not the case, and we have roads that often have more lanes, and that actually encourages drivers to drive faster,” Cordova said.
An analysis by ProPublica showed that tickets for traffic camera violations are disproportionately issued in Latino and Black communities. But Leslé Honoré of Neighborhood Tech Center says responding to traffic fatalities with increased tickets misses the mark.
“What we need is better planning, what we need are streets designed for everyone and not just for cars,” Honoré said. “What we need to do is really talk about the root causes… We need to make sure that the funds that are now coming from the federal government to the city are distributed fairly among the communities that need it.”
Cordova agrees that finding the right level of enforcement is difficult, in part because people don’t always see road deaths as part of public health.
“A lot of us come from heavily policed communities, so we don’t always see more policing as the solution,” Cordova said. “I think a lot of people have mixed feelings about what should happen to people involved in auto-related deaths.”
Ruth Roses, Streetblog Chicago Latin Communities Journalist and Community Programs Coordinator at Lurie Children’s Hospitalargues that while injuries and deaths resulting from motor vehicle traffic are not always considered a public health issue, at the end of the day almost everyone has a stake in making the streets safer.
“As soon as you walk through your door, you become a pedestrian or a road user,” Rosas said. “We know there are more deaths, but that has always been a problem. And when you talk to people, especially those who live in the communities… on the south and west sides that have been divested, they’ve seen this for a long time and now we’re seeing it getting worse and we’re seeing it in other parts of the city. … Now we are experiencing the unintended consequences of issues we overlooked before growing up.
Streetblog Chicago tracks road deaths, but their numbers don’t always match the city portal that tracks the same data. Rosas said the difference stems from how police report information.
“I believe it’s because when the police do reports of cases where people are killed on our streets, if the police don’t classify something or put certain information, it’s not recorded in the tracker. of city data in the correct way,” Rosas said. “We actually do a much deeper investigation and our numbers tend to be different because we take into account a lot of other things that the police didn’t have. may not be immediately included in the report, so the data portal is usually updated at the end of the year with more accurate information, but you have to wait until the end of the year or maybe even a few years to get the exact numbers.
A analysis by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine suggests that Latinos and Black Americans are disproportionately affected by fatal car crashes. In historically segregated Chicago, Honoré says the imbalance is the result of decades of neglect and disinvestment in marginalized communities.
“We know when this city was planned and how segregated it is, that black and brown communities were not given the infrastructure and were deliberately underfunded. And what that creates is the legacy of communities that are still underfunded, infrastructure that is not maintained, streets and sidewalks that are not passable,” Honoré said. “When you have icy sidewalks in winter or overgrown with plants in summer, [people] choose to walk in the street because it is the safest route, which puts them in direct contact with cars. So when we under-support our communities, that’s why we have a higher rate of tragic accidents like this.