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… that a state law that went into effect last Sunday (Jan. 1), mandates that each passenger in a moving vehicle wear a safety belt. There are a couple of other new laws that do not affect Chicago-area drivers directly. One creates a 65 miles-per-hour speed limit for trucks on highways outside of the collar counties. Another allows drivers of motorcycles to proceed through a red light if the light has been red for more than two minutes and the drivers believes it is stalled or blocked. (A law like that for drivers throughout the state would either make everyone crazier than ever or get municipalities to time their lights better.)

… that residents in the Hillside area continue to oppose the expansion of a commercial area into a residential area in order to accommodate drive-through lanes for a Chase Bank at Gross Point and Crawford, where a Citgo gas station once sat. Neighbors provided information that says that “most” residents are “still interested in a ‘scaled back’ proposal from Chase if it can live on the current Citgo property and doesn’t include the large drive-thru lanes.” Neighbors appear to have three basic concerns: the safety of the community and the children; traffic flow and congestion and “the validity of a drive-thru bank property lasting more than 5-10 years.”

… that Evanston Township High School students raised money to help their troubled neighbor, Boocoo, by playing Justin Bieber songs non-stop during passing periods.  The kids coughed up funds either because they liked the music or because they wanted it to stop.

… that the City is getting ready for outdoor ice-skating season. These boards were up at Ackerman Park on Saturday. Other public rinks have been at Baker Park and the lagoon at Dawes Park; a lot of backyard rinks pop up around town as well.

… that Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl placed a bet with College Station Mayor Nancy Berry on the Northwestern-Texas A&M Meineke Car Care Bowl, played last Saturday night. Unfortunately the Cats, lost to the Aggies, after threatening a big comeback in the fourth quarter. Mayor Tisdahl bet a rib dinner from Hecky’s, and Mayor Berry countered with a prime rib roast and a supply of Texas Aggie Brand Beef Jerky from the Texas A&M Rosenthal Meat Science and Technology Center.

… that this bird, which looks like a peregrine falcon, swooped down on a squirrel on Dec. 31, killing it in seconds. TG does not know whether this was intended as an omen for 2012 or merely lunch.

… that the Active Transportation Alliance is praising the Cook County Board for its commitment to “complete streets.” Complete Streets ordinances, according to the ATA, “require that new street projects are designed to accommodate everyone, whether young or old, motorist or bicyclist, walker or wheelchair user, bus or train user.”

… that PACE made some changes to its call-in reservation hours for ADA Paratransit Services. The new call-in hours for suburban paratransit riders will be 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The following things will remain the same: phone numbers, the reservation hours for the suburban Dial-a-Ride programs, the Ride DuPage program or the Ride in Kane program. Anyone with questions may call PACE Customer Relations at 847-364-7223.

The Traffic Guy Thinks …

… these days between Christmas and New Year’s (when this column was written) are among the best days of the year: Everything seems to be in slow motion,
as people savor the wisp of holiday remaining. Winter snow is still anticipated, not dreaded. Plans and projects for the new year still seem exciting, and the new year rolls in like Carl Sandburg’s fog, on little cat feet.