Evanston’s Transportation and Parking Committee this week debated how to fit a two-way bike path onto Chicago Avenue downtown.
Senior City Engineer Sat Nagar showed preliminary designs for the three block route down the west side of the street from Sheridan Road to Davis Street that would help link the Northwestern University campus to downtown.
He immediately ran into static from Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, over the plans for the northern edge of the route — where Chicago Avenue intersects with Sheridan Road.
“That does not make any sense at all, what you’re proposing,” Burrus said of the plan to have cyclists cross Sheridan at the busy intersection.
Nagar conceded that the intersection presents difficult issues. “We’ve had several meetings in the field about how to make that intersection work,” he said.
He noted that the intersection now has an “all red” segment to its light cycle to allow pedestrians to cross, and suggested that could be used by cyclists as well.
But with plans for bike paths on Sheridan Road still up in the air, Nagar said, there are still a variety of other options under consideration — including having the path continue block further north along the west side of Sheridan to the next traffic light.
Alderman Melissa Wynne, who chairs the committee, with Assistant City Manager Marty Lyons.
Nagar said no trees would be removed from Chicago Avenue for the path, and Assistant City Manager Marty Lyons said he hopes the city can make up for the loss of on-street parking spaces by dedicating the first level of the Church Street garage to short term parking.
That garage is never full now, Lyons said.
Nagar said he wants to maintain two lanes of auto traffic in each direction on Chicago Avenue between Church and Davis streets. That block gets extra traffic as drivers loop between the two one-way streets.
But committee member Paul Giddings suggested that two travel lanes plus a dedicated turn lane would be sufficient — and could avoid having to strip parking from the block.
Plans for bike lanes on Chicago Avenue and Sheridan Road are scheduled to be discussed at a public meeting on Saturday morning, July 19, at the Evanston Public Library.