Improving travel safety for all

Northeastern Illinois is experiencing a traffic safety crisis. Roadway deaths have been increasing since 2014, with a sharp increase during the COVID-19 pandemic, and an increasing number of those killed are people walking or riding a bike — our most vulnerable travelers. And while the traffic safety crisis affects everyone, the risk is greater among low-income and Black communities.

Improving traffic safety saves lives. When people feel safe walking and biking around their communities, they are less likely to drive — with positive impacts on traffic congestion, public health, air quality, and our environment.

ON TO 2050, the region’s long-range plan, recommends improving travel safety. The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) sets safety targets and programs transportation funds to meet these targets. CMAP also works with partners and communities across northeastern Illinois to take a comprehensive approach to safety.

Learn way to use road design and technology to support pedestrian safety.

How does CMAP address safety?

Safe Travel for All Roadmap company logo

CMAP’s Safe Travel for All Roadmap (STAR) provides a framework for research and programs to make northeastern Illinois safer for all travelers. STAR is a multiyear effort to improve traffic safety in a comprehensive, equitable, data-informed, and collaborative way. It focuses on speed management and improving safety for people walking, rolling, and riding bicycles.

STAR includes four approaches:

  • Develop safety action plans and support implementation to advance equity goals
  • Prioritize the development of Complete Streets that are safe, convenient, and connected networks for people walking, biking, and using transit
  • Collaborate with partners to identify policy improvements and data needs that will improve safety
  • Increase awareness and use of the Safe System Approach to improve safety proactively for all road users

STAR is funded by a nearly $4 million Safe Streets and Roads for All grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, with additional funding support from the Illinois Department of Transportation and county partners.

Addressing our regional traffic safety crisis

Infographic of car icons and pedestrian icons illustrating pedestrian fatality rate at different speeds. 20 mph = 5% fatality risk. 30 mph = 45% fatality risk. 40 mph = 85% fatality risk.

CMAP’s Speed Management report explores the factors that contribute to speed-related traffic safety risks and provides recommendations on road design, speed limit policy, education, and equitable enforcement. The report proposes that the region adopt the Safe System Approach to achieve travel safety goals outlined in ON TO 2050, the region’s comprehensive plan. It also informs our region’s safety action planning work.

The report presents the following key recommendations:

  • Improve roadway design and capacity guidance to reduce speeding and exposure to safety risks
  • Reduce speed limits in urbanized areas where people walk, bike, and use transit
  • Support safe driving behavior with education and equitable enforcement

Help spread the word about how slower is safer — check out CMAP’s Speed Management communications toolkit for sample newsletter and social text and customizable graphics that communities can share.

How CMAP addresses safety

CMAP provides communities in the region with technical assistance to improve safety. Six counties in the region (Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will), as well as the Greater Ashburn community area in Chicago and the Town of Cicero, will develop safety action plans with CMAP through STAR. The plans will identify context-specific strategies to improve roadway safety for all users, particularly for people walking, biking, or using a wheelchair.

CMAP also awards federal funding to advance projects that address high or critical safety issues with countermeasures appropriate for the crash type(s) in the project corridor/area, through the regional Surface Transportation Program Shared Fund.