What You Need to Know About Chicago’s Smart Street Pilots Ordinance

What You Need to Know About Chicago’s Smart Street Pilots OrdinanceChicago is taking big steps to prioritize street safety for its residents. Recent legislation has been passed to improve street infrastructure with a focus on protecting pedestrians, cyclists, and public transportation. This includes proper street design with visible markings, adequate space for pedestrians and cyclists and physical barriers to shield them from motor vehicles. By investing in safe and accessible infrastructure, more people are encouraged to choose active transportation, leading to healthier and happier communities.

One of the most significant advancements is the recent approval of the Smart Streets Pilots Ordinance by the Chicago City Council. This ordinance will launch two downtown pilot programs aimed at improving traffic safety, enhancing protections for pedestrians and cyclists, and expediting public transportation. The Smart Streets Pilots will utilize new technology in combination with existing infrastructure to enforce parking violations and ensure parking compliance. The ultimate goal is to encourage safer driving behavior and reduce pedestrian and cyclist fatalities while optimizing the city's bike lane and bus lane network.

How does the Chicago Smart Street Pilots Ordinance work?

The Chicago Smart Street Pilots Ordinance (CSSPO) builds on the Lightfoot Administration’s pledge “...to keep Chicago’s streets safe through infrastructure investments and design”. In 2022 alone, Lightfoot oversaw approximately 400 intersection upgrades and nearly 40 miles of added bike lanes. These efforts aim to promote a more efficient public transportation system, healthy lifestyles, and safer streets for all Chicagoans.

The two pilots in the CSSPO are structured as follows:

  • Smart Streets Pilot: The first pilot will enable the City to ticket registered vehicle owners by mail for parking infractions, including parking in bike lanes, bus-only lanes, crosswalks, bus stops, and no parking zones. Warning notices without fines will be issued for the first 30 days after each new camera is installed and activated, discouraging illegal parking with the now imminent ticket, enforced through uninterrupted, continuous monitoring. Low-income drivers will continue to be eligible for reduced-priced tickets and other vehicle-related debt relief.
  • Smart Loading Zone Pilot: The second pilot, called the Smart Loading Zone Pilot, will utilize license plate reading camera technology to facilitate more efficient payment and drop-offs for commercial drivers within commercial loading zones. The goal is to prevent double-parking, reduce vehicle idling and emissions, and create a safer system for commercial drivers and thus bicyclists, and pedestrians. As of now this is a monitoring system that does not have penalties related to it yet. However, advanced monitoring can aid in a court case if an idling or double parked commercial vehicle leads to an unavoidable accident.

Of all the things to focus on, why does Chicago care about illegal parking and idling?

Despite the implementation of bike lanes and other measures to promote active transportation, collisions between motor vehicles and cyclists or pedestrians remain a serious concern. Injuries sustained in such accidents can be severe and life-changing, resulting in significant medical expenses and long-term rehabilitation needs.

The act of illegally parking a vehicle in Chicago can result in hazardous environments and various types of injuries. The circumstances of the incident will determine if the victim has a strong case in court.

  • Injuries to another driver: When a driver collides with an illegally parked vehicle, the moving vehicle isn't always at fault. The crash's circumstances will determine if the driver could have avoided the collision.
  • Injuries to a cyclist: Bicyclists have limited space on the road and are entitled to a four-foot-wide space when vehicles pass them. However, an illegally parked vehicle can cause safety hazards. If a bicyclist gets hit by a moving vehicle, they may have a claim against the illegally parked vehicle, such as double-parked vehicles or those parked in the bicycle lane.
  • Injuries to a pedestrian: Illegally parked vehicles can also pose a risk to pedestrians. Pedestrian injuries related to illegally parked cars can happen when vehicles park in crosswalks or loading and unloading spaces for buses, making it challenging for people, especially those with handicaps, to navigate around them.

If an illegally parked or idling car creates an unavoidable hazard, leading to your injury, you should consult a trusted Chicago personal injury attorney at Gainsberg Injury and Accident Lawyers to review your legal options.

What should I do if I am involved in an accident involving an illegally parked car?

If you get into an accident with an illegally parked car in Chicago, there are a few things you should do immediately. First, call 911. Informing the police of the accident, and seeking medical attention, are important to establish the validity of the incident. Second, avoid posting about the accident on social media, as this could negatively impact your case. Third, create your own preliminary accident report. Record the time, date, and location of the accident, the position of the illegally parked vehicle and any other conditions to illustrate the incident clearly. Keep in mind that the police will also create an "official" traffic crash report, so comparing your notes with theirs may be helpful.

It is worth reiterating, if you have not yet sought medical attention after being involved in your accident, do so immediately. This is to ensure your optimal health and support your case, demonstrating the extent of your injuries and financial burden from the accident.

Once you have gathered all the necessary information, the next step is to seek the guidance of an experienced and trustworthy Chicago personal injury attorney at Gainsberg Injury and Accident Lawyers. Whether you or your loved one has been injured in an accident involving an illegally parked civilian vehicle or an illegally parked commercial vehicle, call our offices to schedule your free, no obligation, case evaluation with Gainsberg Injury and Accident Lawyers today.