Dodge bike lanes under attack

Despite reports showing a reduction in traffic accidents and injuries after installation of protected bike lanes on Dodge Avenue, complaints from some residents along the south end of the street will lead to a City Council discussion Monday of removing the lanes between Oakton and Howard streets.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, responding to the neighbors' complaints, has asked for aldermen to consider whether the bike lanes are necessary.

In a memo to the Council, city staff says accidents on Dodge dropped nearly 18 percent, from 140 in 2015, the year before the bike lanes were installed, to 115 in 2017, the year after installation.

And the number of accidents with injuries declined by more than half, from 27 in 2015 to 11 in 2017.

The speed limit on Dodge was also reduced from 30 to 25 miles per hour in late 2016.

Some residents complained about the protected bike lanes as soon as they were installed. They argue that it's inconvenient and hazardous to have cars parked away from the curb and that the new road configuration impedes the ability of emergency vehicles to get down the street quickly and makes it difficult for drivers turning onto Dodge from side streets to see oncoming traffic.

Some modifications to the bike lane design have been made in response to those complaints -- including removing bollards near intersections that made it hard for drivers to find a space to pull over for emergency vehicles. 

But complaints have continued, most recently being aired at a mayor's town hall meeting at the Levy Center earlier this month.

Shortly after the bike lanes went in, city staff estimated that it could cost nearly $1 million to remove them from the full length of the project -- to strip the pavement markings and repay a grant the city received for the project.

In the memo for Monday's meeting, Public Works Director Dave Stoneback says removing the pavement markings just from Oakton to Howard would cost about $150,000.

He says it's unclear whether the city would have to return all, or  just a portion, of the $292,000 grant, but that returning the grant funds might also jeopardize the city's chance of receiving future grants from the regional planning agency.


Update 3:10 p.m.:


Drivers blocking the bike lane at Dawes School in October 2016. (Google Maps)

In an email message to Evanston Now this afternoon, Alderman Rainey said that despite what the staff memo claims, she does not want to have the bike lanes completely removed between Oakton and Howard, but instead wants them reconfigured to resemble the one-block stretch between Oakton and Kirk streets.

Because of issues related to student dropoffs at Dawes School, the bike lanes on that block are not protected from auto traffic and cars park at the curb.

Before the 2016 changes, that was the configuration of the bake lanes all along Dodge.

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Comments

Tough Call - How about a compromise

The numbers don't lie. If you remove the lanes and accident numbers go up, the City will increase their risk for liability in case of a serious accident.

Why not just compromise and place conventional bike lanes which are not parked car protected? This is a much needed bike route to and from ETHS.

Bike Lanes

WHY in Gods name would you put those bike lanes on Dodge from Greenwood to Howard? Accidents and traffic have gone down? What did the city do before the bike lanes? It looks terrible it is terrible! Why not build an area for people to ride their bikes and allow cars, busses, trucks to have their own area that were created for them? Stupid stupid stupid!!!

Absolute ahistorical nonsense.

Dodge Avenue was built more than a century ago. Of course it was not built for cars, which were a rarity and a novelty at the time. The Model T hadn't even been introduced.

Dodge Avenue was constructed for pedestrians, carriages, and bicyclists.

Fingers crossed that the kids who use Dodge to get to school are learning better.

Why compromise on safety

To the above comment, there were conventional bike Lanes on Dodge.

There were multiple non-car fatalities on the route when conventional bike Lanes were present.

If Rainey gets her way the risk of injury will increase, no doubt about it.

I can't believe an elected official wants to increase the risk of injury for her constituents. Given the fact that she only won the election by 14 Votes, trying to hurt your constituents seems like a flawed political strategy.

I agree that conventional

I agree that conventional bike lanes are not nearly as safe for cyclists and all roadway users as the current buffered or protected bike lanes on Dodge. I ride this route relatively often. In my opinion, it should be maintained as-is. The current configuration helps to increase thesafety of pedestrians who are crossing Dodge (by shortening their crossing distances and thus their 'exposure' to motor vehicle traffic). It increases safety of motorists by 'calming' or slowing down the travel speeds and reducing speeding, which is the number one cause of fatal and serious-injury crashes, and which makes neighborhoods and the healthy lifestyles of neighborhood residents more dangerous and more difficult. Speeding cars destroys the livability and desirability of a neighborhood. Only roadway geometry that prevents or minimizes speeding, geometry that slows traffic and allows for all modes of travel to be safe (walking, bicycling, and driving), can contribute to increasing the "livability" of a neighborhood. Remember, kids, people with disabilities are out there and need to be accommodated. The current protected bike lanes help increase the safety of cyclists of all abilities and levels of experience. Taking them out would be a shame and property values in the area will suffer if the city does. There is a strong correlation -- in the Chicagoland region and around the country -- between high-quality, protected bike lanes and other high-quality bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and home values. The more protected bike lanes, ADA-accessible sidewalks, high-visibility crossings, refuge medians, slowed or calmed traffic, the higher the home and property values. Evanston is progressive, leading the way with these bike lanes and they should continue in that role.

Stupid Bike Lanes

It was always a stupid and dangerous waste of money. Okay leave it. When a kid is injured or killed by the ridiculous street/bike lane configuration, you can deal with it then.

Safety on Dodge

Don't compromise safety. Keep the protected lane.

Discussing constituents' concerns about safety

~~Your quote: "I can't believe an elected official wants to increase the risk of injury for her constituents...trying to hurt your constituents seems like a flawed political strategy."

Here, an elected official in Evanston is requesting discussion of a change.  Would any elected official in Evanston promote a discussion with the intention to make a change that the official knows would increase the risk of physical harm to his or her constituents?  I certainly can't believe that, either.

Instead, it appears that safety concerns of constituents (those living at the senior citizen housing building north of Howard and their loved ones) are what prompted Alderperson Rainey's request for discussion.  Imagine you are trying to help an elderly person, especially one relying on a walker or wheelchair, exit from a car's passenger seat.  How do you help that person and stay safe while you and your elderly loved one must occupy the bike lane while trying to accomplish this?

Is the answer to have the elderly person ride in the back seat on the driver's side for all trips to and from their home?  I don't know but one of my elderly relatives hates sitting in the back seat ever.

So let's all listen to what our fellow citizens have to say about their situation and perhaps we can find a way to make Dodge safer for everyone, including our elderly residents who live near Howard.

Bike lanes

The extremely dense City of Buenos Aires, Argentina (pop. 3.5 million), which is more dense than the City of Chicago, is crisscrossed with two-way protected bike lanes and one-way streets. One way streets are much safer for pedestrians, cars and bikes, than 2-way streets. One can safely reach virtually any part of the city on a bike ... almost always more quickly than by car. At intersections with signals, dedicate bike signals and timing sequences are provided for cyclists.

In contrast, Evanston has hardly any bike lanes. The occasional, non-continuous bike lanes and bike routes that do exist are unsafe, offering no real protection to bicyclists. If anything, the bike lanes put bicyclists in harm’s way. My wife and I refuse to use them. They are a death trap for cyclists. If a driver side door is flung open, a cyclist either has no time to stop or will instinctively veer away from the door and into automobile traffic.

The photos at this link show how the protected bikes lanes look and the map shows just a portion of the Buenos Aires extensive protected bike lane network. As an aside, the yellow symbols identify locations of the FREE bike stations. Yes, absolutely free. And this comparatively poor city has managed to forgo parking on one side of the street in favor of protecting their biking citizenry.

I urge the City Council to retain the bike lanes on Dodge and to make a goal of creating true protected bicycle lanes a priority.

Love the Dodge Bike Lanes

Dodge Avenue is an artery to a major park as well as to our high school. Further, there are many businesses along the canal just west of Dodge. Adding protected bike lanes was a great decision and they should be kept along the full route. I live in the vicinity of Dodge/Oakton and have felt much safer while walking and biking. For safety reasons, I have found that I need to turn onto side streets from Dodge much more cautiously than I had in the past. This is not a deal breaker for the bike lanes. I need to employ more community minded behavior when I make turns and be less selfish in my "drive" to get to my destination quickly. When walking, I am no longer frightened out of my wits by bicyclists zipping by from my rear while walking the Dodge sidewalks. I love those bike lanes. Great addition!

Good to discuss concerns and consider senior citizen center

Let’s be open to a discussion on the reason for the proposal. I hear that the senior citizen housing north of Howard is having difficulties getting our elderly neighbors into and out of cars with the bike lane between the cars and the sidewalk.

I think that it is a good thing when an elected official, such as an alderperson, listens to constituents’ concerns and forwards those concerns for discussion and debate. I suspect criticism would be flying if the alderperson just ignored those concerns. 

That doesn't make sense to me.

Is someone trying to use the street or the bike lane as a loading/unloading zone for human beings? Why are senior citizens being unloaded onto the public right-of-way? It should be obvious that if someone can't quickly and safely exit a vehicle, the driver needs to pull the car off the thoroughfare to accomplish this. If police (or just citizens) see this kind of treatment, I hope they would react appropriately.


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