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Drivers Routinely Block Busy Loop Intersections, But Police Rarely Issue Tickets

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Running red lights, speeding, going straight in turn-only lanes; drivers violate the rules of the road all the time, especially while hurrying to and from work. CBS 2 Morning Insider Lauren Victory found one law that's hardly ever enforced, even though drivers routinely violate it.

Chicago police officers often loudly announce their presence, sounding their sirens to get through busy traffic, but when it comes to ticketing morning rush rule breakers, you'd hardly know they're there.

CBS 2 requested records showing the number of citations issued to drivers who block intersections or crosswalks, a violation serious enough that signs are installed at some busy intersections, like LaSalle and Washington outside City Hall, stating "do not block intersection."

"Sometimes these cars do block the intersection, and they either have to wait, or we cut in front of them, and it's pretty dangerous," pedestrian Greg Grossi said.

The Chicago Department of Transportation's traffic tracker shows more than 50,000 pedestrians walk by the four corners at LaSalle and Washington each work day.

Even if some are repeats, the potential for accidents scares Taylor Verdon, because of her furry companion, Clark.

"Once or twice a week, we go around the block. I'm definitely nervous, just because you don't know what the cars are going to do," she said.

The criss-crossed lines in the middle of the intersection don't seem to stop the problem, forcing pedestrians and cyclists to navigate around blocked traffic when the lights change. Taxis, private cars, and CTA buses all are culprits.

"That's probably the scariest part of the commute," scooter commuter Nick Anderson said. "What you have to do is almost go out into the traffic coming the other way in order to go around the cars that are blocking the bike lane."

Grossi said, maybe if police were out watching the corners during busy rush periods, drivers wouldn't pull into the intersection when they can't get through.

They are, sometimes. Logs provided to CBS 2 showed police cited 274 drivers for blocking intersections over four years, meaning less than one ticket every five days.

Chicago Police said enforcing the rule prohibiting drivers from blocking intersections or crosswalks might cause further congestion in some cases, so officers take that into account when monitoring drivers.

Meantime, New York Police pledged last year to specifically assign uniformed officers to monitor problem intersections to reduce congestion. They dubbed the effort "Don't block the box."

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