Aldermen tonight will be asked to approve a plan that maps out a major expansion of bike lanes that potentially could move Evanston to the forefront of bike-friendly communities nationwide.

A study by the League of American Bicyclists ranks Evanston in the third, or “silver” tier among bike-friendly communities.

The city’s new bike plan, comparing Evanston with college towns of similar size that received higher rankings in the 2012 edition of the bike-friendly study, shows Evanston sharply lagging those towns in the percentage of its roads equipped with bike lanes or similar bike “facilities” that separate cyclists from motor vehicle traffic — even with the addition of 1.7 miles of protected bike lanes on Church and Davis streets in the past two yars.

Now, the city says, just 7.4 of Evanston’s 140 miles of streets have such bike facilities.

But the city is already in the midst of designing  nearly three miles of additional bike lanes, plus upgrades to some existing ones.

Bike corridor map from the city’s new bike plan.

Those include include stretches of Church and Davis streets. Dodge and Chicago avenues and Sheridan Road.

The new plan calls for further analysis of as much as 16 more miles of additional “comfortable bike corridors” along eight routes that include stretches of Howard, Oakton, Greenleaf, Emerson, Lincoln, Harrison and Central streets, Hinman, Chicago, Maple, Orrington and Crawford avenues as well as Sheridan and Green Bay roads and South Boulevard.

The plan estimates the cost of creating those comfortable corridors at nearly $4 million and anticipates getting much of the funding for the projects from a variety of state and federal grant programs.

A copy of the new bike plan is available in the packet for tonight’s City Council meeting.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. A troll-baiting headline

    "City considers massive bike lane expansion"

    WIth a lede like that, I can only imagine the large number of car-driver commenters who will now descend here to vent their rage at bicyclists. Such commentary has been pretty par for the course for nearly every (perceived pro-biking) article to date published by Evanston Now. 

    1. Since we’re giving the

      Since we're giving the bicycle riding trolls free reign over our streets, maybe they could pay a sticker tax similar to what we pay for automobiles! That's probably not possible because it would upset the NU populace!!

      1. Yes, because bikes are well

        Yes, because bikes are well known to cause pollution and traffic deaths at a level similar to cars.

  2. Bike lanes

    When we see that rare cyclist using a lane now, we can't help but comment on the rarity and what it has done to reasonable activity on the street. The thought of adding Chicago Avenue conjures thoughts of additional congestion


    1. What is rare?

      Not sure what you consider 'rare'. Just this evening I walked down Church from Ridge to Chicago and counted over a dozen people using the bike lane.

      1. Wrong Way

        Which way were the bikes traveling? I have seen many more heading west on Church, rather than east (the correct way).

        1. What Else is New?

          Skipw…there will always be a few bicyclists who go the wrong way on the marked bike paths. There are also bicyclists who ride on the downtown sidewalks and who don't stop at 4-way intersections when cars are present. There are also families that bike ride together—children with helmets, and parents (for some reason) without helmets. 

          Too bad none of these complaints is a good argument for preventing the expansion of bike lanes in Evanston.

        2. Bike Biking Abounded

          Oh yes — I also counted 'good' vs' bad' bikers. Around 50-60% of the bikers I saw in total were riding on sidewalks, biking the wrong way down the street, biking on Ridge, etc. At least the bikers going the wrong way in the bike lane weren't biking on the sidewalks or driving cars (which they probably suck at equally as much).

          Of course, there was plenty of bad driving too. Trying to cross over Ridge @ Church street, cars making left-hand turns seem to think they have the right of way even though I was in the cross walk with a white walk signal long before they arrived at the intersection. This happens all the time — people have had the audacity to nearly hit me and then honk their horn at me like *I* was doing something wrong.

          Ultimately, better biking infrastructure can improve the biking in Evanston. Adding the protected bike lane did get more bikes off the sidewalk (though I have seen someone biking East on Church 4 feet from the bike lane!!). Since the Davis bike lane is just now being completed, I can understand why people might prefer to bike the wrong way on Church.

          I have observed first hand the awesome biking infrastructure in Copenhagen. At any given stop light the bikes vastly outnumbered the cars. Getting there is a process though. I noticed several major differences. (1) The infrastructure was top notch. Everything was set up to allow cars, bikes, and pedestrians to move smoothly. On major routes, they didn't just have protected bike lanes — they had secondary roads with a median between them to separate cars and bikes. (2) Everybody respected the rules of the road. I never saw a biker going the wrong way or running a red light. And I never saw cars trying to nudge their way through the crowd. There was also surprisingly little horn honking. I think I heard maybe 2 honks in the course of a week. (3) The number of cyclists was so high that you couldn't forget about them. Everytime you were going to turn or open your car door, you had to be aware of them. It wasn't an occasional surprise. (4) A large percentage of people were both drivers and cyclists — so they understand what it is like to be on both sides. They didn't have that 'us vs them' mentality that seems so common around here because they are both 'us' and 'them'.

          It is clear that better education for cyclists is also needed in this area. People bike the wrong way down streets or on sidewalks mistakenly thinking it makes them safer even though stats prove otherwise. If ETHS and NU had some sort of mandatory bike safety training, that would probably go a long way to improving things. 


    2. Bike lane Church

      From Orrington to Chicago Ave. you constantly see cars and even trucks [to restaurants I assume] parked for long periods of time in the bike lane.  The police even drive by them and don't do anything.

      No wonder bikers don't trust 'bike lanes.'  The lanes even give a false sense of security—believing cars/trucks will keep in their lanes.  In fact every biker will tell you some drives will try to scare bikers for 'fun.'

  3. I hope they do not plan on

    I hope they do not plan on installing the ugly pole design that they used in down town Evanston.

  4. Not a Good Idea

    Not a good idea on some of these streets. Driving will already be a bigger pain than it already is in Evanston. 

    I drive from the north side of Evanston to the city for work and half my drive time wise is just getting out of Evanston as it is.

    1. Bike Lanes and Safety—not the same

      While bikers would like more bike lanes, in theory, in practice they mean little.

      Even the bike lanes that exist in downtown are not safe.  On the one side where cars park on other side of the bike lane, they still risk getting "door'd."  The lane on south side of EPL is almost always occupied by cars and delivery trucks for the restarants [Whole Food?].

      Lanes give bikers a false sense of security. I don't see drivers acting any different than away from lanes.  If the city really wanted to make a difference:

         Have the police set-up 'stings' where a plain clothed officer watches for offender [cell phones, texting, no turn signals, inproper lanes, not stopping at stop signs, etc.] and radios an officer on a bike, motorcycle, car, to stop the offender.  It would not be hard to catch violators—M-F 5 PM at Ridge and Noyes I see at least one person driving while on a cell phone—there are many more places.

         As far as bikers, I've not seen an officer ticket or even parked looking for bikers riding on downtown sidewalks in two years.  Even as bikers speed down Clark and even past the hotel on the sidewalks—even Kellogg students on Orrington east side—they should be old enoght to know better.  A few tickets for NU students might cause the word to spread.  And what about the weekend bikers in packs speeding down Sherman and on Lincoln—not stopping at signs or even looking or slowing down for pedestrians or bikers obeying the laws—ticketing them should be like shooting fish in a barrel !


  5. on the wrong path to bike friendly

    Evanston is and has been a nice place to bike around town.  Adding more bike lanes can help but it won't make us a leading city for biking.  Biking through Evanston and connecting to other communities is the problem.  We are surrounded by excellent bike paths that die at the borders of Evanston.  The Green Bay Trail, Chicago Lakefront trail, Skokie Sculpture Park Trail and the Forest Preserve trails all come to a dead before entering Evanston.  Connecting Evanston with these trails can make Evanston a regional hub of biking.  These are bike highways that communters, families, kids and recreational cyclists use to avoid traffic and stop signs.  Bicyclists don't like to stop and that's what biking through city streets requires.  But biking on trails minimizes that problem.  How can Evanston connect with these existing trails?  We have to work with neighboring communities.  Getting to Chicago's Lakefront trail is rediculous from Evanston.  The Sculpture path becomes a muddy gravel path when it enters Evanston.  Finding the entrance to the Green Bay trail requires a map.  Biking on our own city streets can be improved on but that's like repaving our roads hoping the Interstate is going to come to town.  

    1. Greenbay Trail

      North Shore residents think of the Greenbay Trail as a treasure.

      Oddly neither I or the EPL Reference desk could not find a map on the Web, maps or books.  In fact the bike trail and Illinois travel books at EPL don't even list it. The closest was to describe traveling along streets by Greenbay Rd.—admitedly very nice sights.

      Why maps needed ?  Try describing it to even Highland Park. What do you need to do after getting too park in Kenilworth ?  How to get to path behind the school in Winettka, from end of trail by Glencoe to where you pick it up again, etc..


      Other topic:Vistors wanting to tour trails, scenic areas of Evanston.  I've met several visitors to Evanston at EPL who wanted to do so.  But the paths lead them away from the downtown area and you have to get back.  Bike rentals could be a big boon.  I don't know of any place that rents bikes.  I've not seen a Divi (sp) bike in Evanston.

  6. We need more!

    I think it is great that Evanston is considering how to improve bike lanes! There are plenty of ways to allow cars, bikes and pedestrians to share the streets. The reality is we need to think of all people and cars have been the primary focus- so it is great to think of ways to allow bikers to share the streets in a safe way. 

  7. It would be great to reduce cars and increase bikes

    However, the city has to make a concerted effort to do so rather than do it in a piecemeal manner. I'm not a cyclist but a pedestrian and would welcome fewer cars in the downtown.

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