Evanston now has a new bike plan that envisions protected bike lanes and other improvements along more than a dozen city roadways — but in approving the plan this week several aldermen made it clear that they have deep reservations about it.

To get the plan approved at all, City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz crafted a resolution stressing the preliminary nature of the plan and outlining a long process of further community input and review by city committees before any money would be spent to build eight “comfortable corridors” the plan proposes across the city.

Bobkiewicz outlined a faster-track process — but still with more City Council review — for bike improvements — mostly funded by grants — that are planned over the next year for:

  • Dodge Avenue, from Howard to Church streets,
  • Sheridan Road, from Chicago Avenue to Isabella Street,
  • Davis Street from Ridge to Florence avenues and then through Mason Park to Church Street,
  • Church Street from McCormick Boulevard to Dodge Avenue, and
  • Chicago Avenue from Davis Street to Sheridan Road.

A motion to table the bike plan for further review fell just one vote short of approval Monday night.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, said she’s opposed to the use of parkways for bike routes, claiming they denigrate property values.

But Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, said she supports the bike plan and argued that bike lanes are amenities that improve property values.

Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, said that while she favors encouraging more use of bikes on city streets, she’s concerned that there may not be enough room on streets in her ward for the protected bike lanes the plan envisions.

Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, wanted to hold the plan to nail down specifics of a compromise that appeared to resolve objections from residents along Davis west of Ridge to the bike lane planned for their street.

Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, voiced concerns about the cost of the bike projects, repeating her suggestion that cyclists be licensed and have to pay fees to the city.

And Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, while he voted for the plan, said the city could save a lot of money on infrastructure if all users of the roadways could just get along better.

“It’s not that cyclists or motorists are bad,” Wilson said, “It’s that jerks are bad” — and both some cyclists and some motorists are jerks.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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1 Comment

  1. They should define a process

    I am an avid cyclist, and I think the people on Davis St. west of Ridge were right when they said the negative effects of a protected bike lane on their street did not outweigh the benefits of having the bike lane.  No doubt there will be other parts of the plan that run into similar resitance.  The city has no criteria to decide when the greater good is served by taking away parking or a traffic lane in exchange for a protected bike lane.  They should.  Without some rules the loudest voice wins.  They do have such rules for putting in trafic controls.  They do not just put in stop signs wherever somone wants them.  The city has traffic engineers that follow specific guidelines to determine whether a stop sign should be placed at any specific intersection.  What a mess we would have if traffic controls were set up based on "community input" and council discussions.

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