The city is encouraging Evanston cyclists to participate in Chicagoland’s Bike to Work Week, beginning Saturday.

“Every time an Evanston resident uses a bike to commute to work,” says the city’s sustainable programs coordinator, Catherine Hurley, “they avoid putting needless pounds of CO2 emissions in the environment from their vehicle.”

Even if you work in downtown Chicago, you are encouraged to ride your bike to the rail station or the nearest bus stop as part of the Bike Commuter Challenge sponsored by the Active Transportation Alliance.

A section of the city’s website is devoted to the many resources provided for bikers, including a downloadable map of Evanston bike routes, bike safety, and more, to help make your biking experience as enjoyable and as safe as possible.

On June 14, the Active Transportation Alliance, with support from the city and Rotary International, will be operating a Bike Pit Stop for bike commuters from 6:30 a.m. to 8 a.m.  at Church Street and Maple Avenue, adjacent to the protected bike lane and the Metra station.

At the Pit Stop, bikers can pick up a goodie bag and an Evanston bicycle map.

A similar pit stop will be available on Wednesday between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.  on Northwestern University’s campus at the Jacobs Center that will offer a free safety check or lube and air from a bike mechanic.

The city notes that the yearly cost of owning and operating a car is more than $9,000, compared to as little as $120 for a bike.

”With the improvements in health caused by cycling 30 minutes daily,” they contend, “every person can save on average $544 in medical costs annually.”

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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  1. Bike to work and beyond…

    Active Transportation Alliance's Bike Commuter Challenge and Bike to Work Week is a wonderful way to kick off summer by encouraging people to bike to work and also around town for recreation and to do their errands…  I hope that for Evanston residents – this is just the beginning of a regular habit of grabbing their handlebars and not their steering wheels… and not just a week long "event".

    There are several new initiatives that can help people get around town and while downtown in the Loop.  The City of Chicago recently launched their "Divvy Bike Sharing System"… if you work downtown, this is a great alternative to driving, or cabbing in the loop and elsewhere for short trips…   Please see:

    There is another program that is a partnership between Active Transportation Alliance and the RTA… it is called.  "Drive Less, Live More"  ( see also: ).  Participants who drive less over the next few months have the chance to win prizes including dinner and tickets to the symphony." Participants can register at and track their transportation use to be eligible for various prizes.

    These programs and events are a great way to get exercise and reduce carbon-dioxide in our community.  A new effort is being planned to ask Evanston residents to reduce Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) in the community which we hope our citizens will embrace… Stay tuned for the details.

    Respectfully submitted, Brian G. Becharas – Chairman, Transportation Task Force – Citizens' Greener Evanston

  2. When will Evanston get the Divvy Bike share?

    Evanston is perfectly stiuated for a bike share system.  As the Chicago rollout proceeds next year, Divvy will be within a mile or so of Evanston.

    It would make sense for the city to have conversations with Chicago and Alta (Divvy's operator) to see what it would take to expand the system into Evanston.

    Outside of the el, convenient public transportation options are limited in Evanston.  Bike share allows on-demand use of public transportation ideal for short trips.  The systems are very inexpensive when compared to how much the city pays for such white elephants as the always-empty downtown parking garages.



    1. Limited public transport?

       I'm trying to clarify your perspective.

      You say that convenient public transportation in Evanston is limited?  You feel that with both the el and the metra rail lines, along with the davis st. bus hub rolling out multiple routes, Evanston has very limited public transportation? Really?  What are we missing?  

      From my perspective, compared to virtually any other suburb in the whole Chicagoland area we have the the greatest public transport options, but you are calling that limited. 

      Empty public garages?  That must be why people need to drive up multiple floors to get a spot.  But hey, those garages are only the basic support infrastructure for the whole downtown business community.

      But then, so what. It's not like the business community created any of the ten thousand+ jobs for people downtown, or pays many millions in r.e. taxes, or generates more millions in sales tax revenue, etc. etc.

      Yeah, just big white elephants, who needs em.  Couple dozen shared bikes, now thats a solution, or at least a nice quaint little local amenity.  Do you work for Alta?



      1. You must not live on the west side

        The only part of town adequately served by transit is the eastern corridor of town. For access to anything west of Green Bay & Ridge you have to rely on poor and infrequent bus service.

        As for the garages, look at the city's statistics from the last transportation plan. The downtown garages only see about 60-70% occupancy at peak times. A couple of years ago the city had to spend nearly $3 million dollars just for maintenance for the downtown garages. That comes to around $10K per spot.

        Bike share is cheap to install and operate by comparison: $5.5K for a kiosk and 15 bikes. Piggy backing on the Chicago contract makes sense economically and from a regional transportation perspective as it could enhance linkages to CHicago.

        Bike share is perfect for a small, relatively-densely populated suburb such as Evanston as it is a public transit mode designed for trips between 1-2 miles, is environmentally friendly, operates on-demand (you don't have to wait for infrequent buses), promotes health. No matter where you live in the city commercial and employment destinations are within 1-2 miles.

        1. Would bike more but what about thefts?

          I would love to ride my bike to my train station at least 7-8 months of the year.  Biggest issue:  I see way too many signs offering rewards for information on stolen bikes.  My bike is not particularly expensive (bought used for $300) but I want to keep it as long as I can.

          I have a Kryptonite lock with the U-lock and the cable.  I'm not looking for a guarantee as a determined thief can get anything that he or she wants.  But should I be upgrading my bike lock before leaving it outside a train station?  Seeing bikes outside a train station, the thief is fairly confident that the owner won't be returning until after 4 p.m. so it's a plum ripe for the picking with the right tools and a minute of no one looking.

          1. Buy a junker

            Generally you should be OK with a Kryptonite and a cable. 

            One thing that I did was to buy a cheap 3 speed bike at a garage sale.  It cost me $15 dollars and is a 3-speed clunker. A little lube and new tubes and it was good to go.

            I wouldn't ride it in the tour de France, but it is sufficient for the 1 mile from my house to the train station.

        2. 70% full = always empty?

          So now  70% occupancy equals "always empty"   Must be that new math or some fundamentally flawed reasoning.  Those garages are 70% FULL because people drive in to work and shop in Evanston from afar, by the millions, every year. 

          The little 3 million garage upkeep of several years ago is recouped every couple weeks by a vibrant business community that needs to draw from well outside Evanstons borders in order to pay the substantial R.E. taxes.  Therefore the "investment" in the garages is minimal compared to the huge return provided by supporting the commercial real estate/ business environment.

          The bike share program, while a nice little amenity for locals running little errands with no need to carry anything more than a small package, will have zero to little impact on methods of commuter/consumer transport into Evanston.  The new and empty Church st. bike lanes have already proven that point. 

      2. Easterner?

        You clearly live in East Evanston. Bike sharing would be a game changer for me, as I am more than a mile away form Metra.

    2. Bike Share System

      @ Anon,

      If Evanston does undertake a bike share program, I hope they will take a very close look at the $$ onerous terms of the Divvy System and do something more like the very successful (and reasonably priced) B-share program in Madison, WI

      Respectfully submitted, Brian G. Becharas

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