The cycling advocacy group PeopleForBikes is out with a national ranking of the bikeability of cities, and it gives Evanston at least a passing grade.

The report says Evanston ranks 142nd out of 624 midsize cities for its bike-friendliness, putting us in the 77th percentile

Some of the hometowns of major universities that Evanston likes to compare itself with do considerably better while others fall quite a bit short of Evanston’s score, as shown in the table below.

And then there are other mid-size cities in Illinois that get painfully low scores from the bike group.

A People for Bikes map of Evanston streets. Areas in orange are ones the group considers to be the most high-stress for cycling.

Some of Evanston’s neighboring communities — Skokie and Wilmette — were not included in the rankings and Chicago received a miserable score of 161 out of 163 large cities.

Chicago’s score was harmed, as it was last year, by its default 30 mile per hour speed limit on streets without bikeways — which the study rates as “unsafe” for cycling — even though StreetsBlog Chicago says many of the low-traffic side streets involved aren’t actually unsafe.

Axios Chicago notes that Mayor Brandon Johnson’s transition report calls for lowering Chicago’s default speed limit to 20 mph.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. I agree that Chicago could be better for cycling, and also many side streets are safe as they are. Evanston was making good progress on bike lanes and then stopped, while Skokie continues to build out its bike lane network (

    As for Mayor Johnson’s transition report, it often seems more like wishful thinking than actually proposing priorities that could happen. The speed limit proposal is for a default limit of 20 mpg, but a 10 mph speed limit on residential streets. It is hard to image residents actually accepting a 10 mph speed limit and traffic police enforcing it.

    I doubt most of the ideas in the transition report will come to fruition. But, hopefully, it will result in some improvements to transportation infrastructure and city services.

  2. Evanston should be a model in this category. Perhaps with the dearth of downtown businesses and restaurants we could simply make downtown a pedestrian mall with excellent biking. It might be reinvigorating.

    1. See “State Street” and “Downtown Oak Park”. Didn’t work out so well for them.

  3. “You will live in a pod and eat bugs.”

    20mph and 10mph are further measures to make doing anything productive so slow as to be untenable. “15-minute city” nirvana. All for bicycle safety. What about people who have to go about their business, take kids to classes and run errands? I guess those considerations are way down the priority list.

  4. It is amazing that Evanston scored so high given that its been more than five years since there have been any bike infrastructure enhancements.

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