The Chicago Tribune reports that the Chicago police will start publicizing the crosswalk laws this week. It's about time! There are so many crosswalks at small intersections or in the middle of a long block—without stop signs or traffic signals. Most drivers seem to assume that these crosswalks don't give pedestrians the same right of way that they're granted at corners with stop signs or red lights. But it's not so. If a pedestrian has entered one of those renegade crosswalks, he or she does have the right of way, and the driver is required by law to cede the right of way and wait for the pedestrian to pass safely.
The cops will be crossing the street in some of those crosswalks and issuing warning tickets to people who don't yield to them.
Now, those of you in places like Wisconsin, Minnesota, and California may find it odd that drivers wouldn't naturally slow down to let people cross the street. But Chicago drivers tend to keep plowing through, even though slowing for a pedestrian is a minor inconvenience.
So if you're driving in Chicago's neighborhoods, pay attention. If a pedestrian's in the street, don't play chicken with them. Slow down, let 'em cross. Even if you could zip past before the walker reaches your lane, slow down and wave them across. Some pedestrians will insist that you go, and others will be pleased as punch that a Chicago driver's actually being nice.
Jaywalking is technically illegal, but I suspect the law requires drivers to ease off the gas pedal and not try to run over jaywalkers.
Imagine the karma points that you'll rack up, letting people cross the street in front of you. Extra bonus points in crappy weather or hot, muggy weather, when the pedestrian just wants to get where she's going and you're comfortably ensconced in your climate-controlled vehicle.