Skokie committee seeks input following tragedy
Carter Vo, when he was in Mandy Yom's kindergarten class at Meyer School in Skokie in 2010. | TAMARA BELL~SUN-TIMES MEDIA
SAFETY INPUT MEETING
When: 8 p.m.-9:30 p.m. June 11
Where: McCracken Middle School, multipurpose room, 8000 East Prairie Road
Purpose: A new action committee will hear suggestions about how to make Main Street and the area around Middleton School safer in the wake of a tragic incident at Main Street and St. Louis Avenue.
Updated: July 8, 2012 6:28PM
Before a new committee meets to discuss ways to make traffic conditions around Middleton School safer, the public will have a chance to provide input.
A public forum is scheduled from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday, June 11, in the McCracken Middle School multipurpose room, at 8000 East Prairie Road.
The forum comes exactly three weeks after 8-year-old Carter Vo was out for a bicycle ride when he was killed by a driver after she crashed her vehicle near Main Street and St. Louis Avenue, only a few blocks from Middleton School.
Among responses to the tragedy, the village was to create a 10-member action committee to review a traffic analysis of the area and to create and implement an action plan.
The committee, to be chaired by Trustee Randy Roberts, will also include village officials, parents, District 73.5 Superintendent Kate Donegan and Board President Jim McNelis.
McNelis Monday told Village Trustees that he thinks the joint committee is “a wise and necessary step.”
A resident of Main Street, McNelis said he views the committee as an extension of ongoing dialogue about traffic safety in the area.
Before the May 21 tragedy, area residents had already complained about safety conditions on Main and surrounding streets. They said cars often speed down Main, and making turns from and onto Main can be dangerous.
McNelis said Main Street traffic too often fails to yield to children at crosswalks. Drivers making turns from side streets can also face dangerous conditions because of the intersections, he said.
“Vehicles either dart out or creep out, putting them at risk of high-speed collisions,” McNelis said. “Those of us who live on Main Street see this all the time.”
Donegan said concerns about school safety and area traffic are not new. But she also believes good can come from the action committee that was just assembled.
“By working together, I know we can come to a resolution that is amazing for our kids and community,” she said. “They deserve nothing less.”
Melina Kelson, a District 73.5 parent who lives on Main Street, also will be a member of the new action committee.
Kelson said she has witnessed speeding vehicles and drivers who whiz through crosswalks without regard for the crossing guard.
Kelson presented village trustees Monday with a petition signed by nearly 300 people calling for the following safety measures for the area:
• Adding signs at the crosswalk on Main at both Drake and St. Louis avenues.
• Adding instructional signs for eastbound drivers at the southwest corner of Main and Drake and the southwest corner of Main and St. Louis and a painted white line at Drake and St. Louis.
• Adding instructional signs for westbound drivers at the northeast corner of Main and Drake and the northeast corner of Main and St. Louis at Drake.
• Adding a flashing light surrounding the current “stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk” sign at Drake on Main.
• Adding four-way stop signs at all intersections immediately surrounding Skokie schools including Meyer Elementary School.
• Narrowing Main at Drake so that motorists do not try to go around vehicles stopped for pedestrians in the crosswalk.
The idea of speed bumps for Main is also likely to come up in the discussion. Village officials have mostly opposed speed bumps for Skokie — in part because they say it poses challenges for emergency vehicles.
But Mayor George Van Dusen said all ideas will be considered by the committee and the village.
Kelson said she has learned since the tragic crash that safety conditions around schools is a concern in all of Skokie. The village plans to study safety conditions for all schools over the summer.
“We need to change the pedestrian culture in Skokie, especially in school zones,” Kelson said. “This will not happen without the village implementing simple changes and enforcing them.”
Van Dusen promised the village will find a solution to traffic safety problems. The action committee will meet over the summer, he said, with the goal of having some solutions by the time school starts.