Art Display Of Shoes Depicts Chicago Traffic Deaths

Lisa Fielding
November 19, 2018 - 2:38 pm

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A line of white boots, sandals, high heels, sneakers and children's shoes, snake around Federal Plaza, each adorned with a carnation, each representing the 132 people who were killed in traffic crashes in 2017. 

"These aren't just shoes, these are people and we need to remember them that way" said Randy Blakenhorn, Secretary, Illinois Department of Transportation.

"This is a health crisis. It brings all of us together and all of us have to come up with solutions to figure out what we're going to do to get to zero."

The World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims is marked worldwide each Nov. 18 and 19.

"This memorial features the color white which is chosen to represent a ghost. It's similar to the ghost bikes you see all over the city," said Rebekah Scheinfeld, Commissioner, Chicago Department of Transportation.

"A traffic crash is not an accident. It is a sudden, violent, traumatic occurrence that effects not only the people involved in the crash, but their communities. These are preventable incidents. They can and must be prevented."

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Every day in Chicago, five people are seriously injured in traffic crashes. Every three days, someone is killed in a traffic crash in the streets of Chicago.

The city has launched Vision Zero which is designed to eliminate deaths and serious injuries from traffic crashes by 2026.

"Since launching, we've made significant progress. We've been working to build a culture of safety reaching 115,000 people at hundreds of outreach and education events throughout the city. We have undertaken a focus outreach effort on the West side high crash areas and will soon start a similar process in South side high crash areas," Sheinfeld said.

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"When people are killed or seriously injured in traffic crashes, there loved ones are profoundly and permanently impacted by the loss," said Janna Henning, who lost her partner Patrick Stack in 1989 in a crash where he was riding his bicycle and was struck by a delivery truck near Orleans and Huron.

"His death profoundly impacted many people and he will be remembered and mourned the rest of our lives. So please let's all work to prevent traffic accidents so others don't have to grieve as we do." 

Of the 38 pedestrians killed in Chicago crashes through October of this year, most of those hit were over the age of 50.

"Though persons 50 and older represent only 13 percent of the population, we disproportionately represent those who are killed by pedestrian accidents," said Rosanna Marquez, AARP Illinois State President.

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"About 100 Americans per day die in traffic crashes. To put that in perspective, in the past 2 1/2 hours this morning, more Americans have died in traffic crashes, than have died in plane crashes in the past decade," said Ron Burke, Active Transportation Alliance.

Using crash data, the Vision Zero Action Plan identified 43 high crash corridors and eight high crash areas in Chicago. The data shows that people who live in areas of high economic hardship are three times as likely to die as a result of a traffic crash.

World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims is held the third Sunday in November around the world since 1995. This is the first time that Chicago has taken part in the event that's sponsored by the United Nations.