Evanston’s Transportation and Parking Committee agreed Wednesday night with a staff suggestion to delay action on a proposal to double fines for riding bikes on some business district sidewalks and launch an educational campaign instead.

Some evidence of that campaign could already be seen downtown this week — with a large flashing sign on Church Street somewhat inaccurately reminding cyclists of the ordinance.

But Ylda Capriccioso, an assistant to the city manager, said more is planned — including a “Let’s Roll Together” publicity campaign featuring a revival of a poster used four years ago and fresh stenciling on crosswalks.

She also said there are plans to update the city’s bike map to show what stretches of streets are covered by the regulation.

Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, the committee’s chair, said a police foot patrol officer told her they’ve been ticketing quite a bit downtown already this spring.

So far, she said, they’ve mostly been issuing warnings, but are about to switch to issuing more citations, which carry a $25 fine.

Capriccioso also presented a map showing where tickets had been issued to bicyclists riding on sidewalks over the past two years.

Beyond the 41 downtown locations shown on the map, she said there were only two addresses where citations were issued — at 815 Noyes St, and at 2226 Sherman Ave.

On the map, yellow markers represent locations where citations were issued in 2013, red indicates 2014 locations, and blue indicates spots where citations were issued both years.

In all, she said, 31 citations were issued in 2013, 43 in 2014 and four have been issued so far this year.

Wynne said a merchant on Chicago Avenue near Dempster Street recently told her he’d almost been sent through the plate glass window of own shop by a cyclist as he was trying to help a customer bring some books into his store.

“People decide that Chicago Avenue is too dangerous to ride on,” Wynne said, “so they get on the sidewalk. But the sidewalk is much too narrow to accommodate both cyclists and pedestrians.”

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. $25 or $50 it makes little difference if not enforced
    On Clark between Orrington and Sherman between 11:30 AM and 1 PM, there will be at least five bikers on the sidewalk. Much the same on Orrington between Church and Clark–even past the hotel. It would be like shooting fish in a barrel–but I’ve not seen one policeman there in a year and even if they drive past the biker, don’t do anything.
    When bikers are told it is illegal, they say they don’t care or police won’t do anything or phrases you can’t print or just keep riding.
    They don’t care of bike laws and I bet won’t when driving—already 1/3 of drivers don’t signal even left turns [the law is 140 feet before turning].

  2. Signs the New Education?
    Tickets will be a much better Education. They will send a very clear message and complete understanding about bike riding on sidewalks

    1. Signs apparently useless

      Unless NU students can't read or understand drawing, the signs on almost every block downtown have not prevented their biking on the walks.  Even when they say they saw them, they don't care.

      Police and/or electronic signs on Clark and Orrignton might help but I suspect students will still feel if caught, their parents will just pay the bill.  I avoid walking on Sherman walks because of bikers and the street because of the diagonal parking—if I drove I'd really want to avoid it—cars backing out, crossing lanes to get to a actual or imagined stop, cars stopped waiting for someone to pull out.

      I saw a Jimmy Johns biker on an Orrington walk twice in two days. He said he knew it was illegal and rode on.  I wrote JimmyJohn's headquarters and they said they would stop the bikers from doing so.

  3. A bigger stick would help

    A bigger stick would help indeed.

    Right through the spokes!


  4. Bicycle Brainstorming

    ~~I walk in Downtown Evanston every day and encounter an average of 5 bicyclists riding on sidewalks each trip. The problem is getting worse, not better. There are signs posted everywhere prohibiting riding on sidewalks AND there are fancy protected bike lanes specifically for these riders to use. Are they using the bike lanes? No. Someone is going to get killed – a pedestrian, maybe a child. It is obvious that bicyclists don’t or can’t read so a “friendly” ad campaign is just another huge waste of our money. So, City of Evanston, I say forget the velvet glove and get tougher. We need police officers downtown writing tickets as fast as they can. The word will get around. Trust me.
    It is also time to institute MANDATORY bicycle registration and license plates so that my fellow pedestrians and I (and motorsits as well) can jot down the license plate numbers of bicyclists who are breaking the law and turn them in to the police. That’s when a warning is warranted and should be issued.
    Maybe Evanston cycle clubs, retailers, and other avid bicyclists should get involved to help solve the problem through a series of service days on Downtown streets. Stop sidewalk riders and explain the law and penalties. Urge them to change their ways. Maybe if the message is delivered by a fellow cyclist, those who are breaking the law will listen. It's obvious the message isn't getting out as things stand and a "friendly" ad isn't going to make any impact.

    1. Getting NU Admin. to do something would solve 2/3s of this
      NU says they inform students that bike riding on sidewalks is illegal.
      Probably in some rule book they give Freshmen [though not Kellogg and maybe other schools].
      I doubt students read any of it, so that is not effective.
      Two or three years ago in the DailyNorthwestern there was an article about this, but whenever I mention articles that would be of much more interest to students, they have not read even those.
      The university does have a system for sending alerts to students cell phones [email?]. That would be the best way.

      But if the police are not out ticketing, it will continue. A police car at Burger-King or on Orrington by the hotel or on Sherman for 1/2 hour at a time between 11:30 AM and 1:30 PM on a staggered basis and giving out FINES not warnings, would probably get the message out faster than anything—those fined will alert their friends.

    2. I agree

      Biking should happen on roads, not sidewalks, just like parking should happen in garages and lots, not busy streets. Make one side of Sherman a two-way bike lane, then let $250 sidewalk riding tickets fly. Those semi-capable (and JJ delivery) riders probably don't enjoy riding on sidewalks, they just don't feel safe around the aggressive taxis, wannabe street racers, confused lane changers, and blind backers on the road. I've biked just about every day since I was 5 years old and even I feel a little unsafe on Sherman (and Orrington and Chicago). Until those streets are actually safe for unseasoned riders, people can continue to look forward to being grazed as they exit CVS. At best, these little bike tickets would treat a symptom. We need a new plan.

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