Evanston’s Transportation and Parking Committee tonight will review a staff recommendation that the city develop new limits on curb cuts downtown in an effort to make the area safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.

A staff memo prepared for the meeting suggests that similar regulations have been adopted in a number of other cities that are trying to encourage lifestyles that are less dependent on cars.

For example, Ann Arbor Michigan’s Street Design Manual limits driveway widths and requires that driveways be flush with the level of the sidewalk.

An illustration from the NACTO guide.

And the National Association of City Transportation Officials Urban Bikeway Design Guide says bike route crossings should be raised at driveways, so the sidewalk and bike lane maintain their elevation through the crossing. It calls for sharp inclines on the road up to the sidewalk level to serve as a speed hump for motor vehicles.

A driveway at the 909 Davis building in Evanston that likely wouldn’t meet Ann Arbor or NACTO rules (Google Maps image).

The city staff memo also suggests that the city should:

  • Discourage construction of new curb cuts on major transit streets and in neighborhood commercial corridors — placing driveways on secondary streets or alleys instead.
  • Minimize the number of curb cuts by having each one provide access to as many parking lots as possible.
  • Reduce minimum and maximum curb cut widths on streets tht have on-street parking.
  • Limit the number and width of garages permitted per lot.
  • Limit the number of curb cuts on streets with bike routes, schools and parks.
  • Require signs and and markings to make clear that pedestrians and bicyclists have prioirty over auto traffic at curb cuts.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. curb cuts also are for people with disabilities

    I would strongly encourage the city to pay careful attention to how this would impact people using wheelchairs and walkers.  Fewer curbcuts means getting anywhere in a wheelchair might involve much greater distances.  And, in the snow or rain – this is bad bad bad.  I am sure there is research about how these new plans impact people with disabilities and I hope it will get investigate thoroughly.  Making the city more friendly to wheeled transportation is great, but we have to remember that there are lots of different kinds of wheels and the needs of bikes are not necesarily the same as the needs of people using wheelchairs and walkers.  (I won’t even start about skateboarders)

    1. Curb cuts

      The proposals only addressed curb cuts for driveways — redesigning them and trying to reduce their number.

      It would have no impact on curb cuts for ADA ramps where sidewalks meet streets — which the city continues to add as part of sidewalk repair and other projects.

      The committee was generally receptive to the ideas presented Wednesday night, and a more detailed proposal is expected to be discussed at an upcoming meeting.

      — Bill

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