Evanston officials plan to step up their “Let’s Roll Together” road safety education campaign next week as the clock ticks down toward a possible City Council vote to increase fines for riding bikes on downtown sidewalks.

Beginning Monday, bike shops and other retailers will distribute road tips for bicyclists and motorists. On Wednesday, from 4 to 6 p.m., city staff, the police bike patrol and volunteers will be in downtown Evanston to pass out fliers to bicyclists and motorists with road safety tips and to encourage safe travel.

Officials are also encouraging residents to visit and click “Test Your Road IQ!” to take the Illinois League of Bicyclists’ Bike Safety Quiz.

The first 25 residents to earn a Gold certificate and email it to or tweet it to @bikeevanston will receive a free bike bell. All participants will also be entered into a raffle to win a $50 gift card from Wheel & Sprocket.

Last winter city staff proposed doubling the fine for riding bikes on sidewalks from $25 to $50 less than a year after raising it from $15 to $25. But after opposition to the move developed, in April action on the fine increase was postponed to give time to try an educational approach instead.

The education campaign has already included stenciling downtown sidewalks with reminders of the walk-bikes-on-sidewalks rule and distribution of a poster carrying a similar message.

The City Council is scheduled to again consider the fine increase proposal at its Sept. 15 meeting.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Pedestrian Safety is the First Priority
    As an avid bicyclist and relatively new resident of Evanston, I sincerely appreciate the local efforts being made to promote cycling in general and safe cycling in particular. Regretfully, some bicyclists do not obey traffic laws–creating an avoidable and contentious relationship with motor vehicles and pedestrians– working against the goal of encouraging alternative transportation.

    Aside from young children learning to ride a bike (under close supervision) bicyclists must never ride on the sidewalk. While well intended, the stenciled reminders that have appeared on our sidewalks this summer are largely ignored. A periodic ticketing effort in strategic locations is needed. Pedestrian safety should be our first priority–at that is already law.

    1. City ordinances allow and can be done safely

      As a new resident, you may not be aware that the city ordinances allow bicyclists to ride on the sidewalk outside of certain commercial areas. 

      No matter where bicyclists ride, they need to be aware of and yield to pedestrians.  With a young teenager who rides a bike much of the summer to get around, my child has been taught to be safe and obey all rules of the road, including stopping at stop signs.  My child also does not ride on any sidewalk legal for bikes if conditions (including use by pedestrians) makes it unsafe for anyone to do so.

      Given the lack of bike protected bikes lanes or paths, heavy vehicle traffic and unsafe driving by many motorists (failure to see or respect bicyclists, texting and other cell phone use, and speeding), my teenage bicyclist rides on the sidewalk whenever it is legal and safe for all to do so.


    2. Agree about bicyclists

      I could not agree with the well-written, to the point, made by Michael Blayney. And, yes, such flagrant disregarding of simple biking rules does indeed create a "contentious" relationship among all involved: cyclists, pedestrians, & drivers. Further I do agree that sidewalk reminders are, in theory, a good reminder & maybe a more fluorescent color would help but, IMO, cyclists who ride on sidewalks whiz by too fast to read them!  Signs, like regular stop signs, would probably not help either & would join the already sign-cluttered streets.

      This response is all the more meaningful because it is written by a cyclist.  This presents a clearly non-biased awareness/admission that there is a problem.

      My scariest moment was when a stoplight turned green, I checked to the left & right, then started up only to find a speeding cyclist coming from my left.  Not only did I just miss him by a foot or so but he gave ME a dirty look.  That said, I’ve seen motorists breeze through red lights, not just the usual stop signs, & pedestrians scoot across the street with traffic coming.  Cyclists seem to flout the rules more often, though.

      Ticketing is obviously a must for the safety of all.  The fee must be hefty enough to discourage people from ignoring the rules & potentially putting others’ lives in danger.  If only a fraction of the chronic offenders were ticketed, that might serve as a real warning to others.  The problem will never be 100% solved (like able-bodied people parking in handicapped-designated in spots [risking a $250 fine!]) but Evanston can certainly make progress in ensuring the safety of all.


  2. Another campaign—Campaign 50, Enforcement 0
    The police or other officials could cut down on bikers on downtown sidewalks if they ‘did’ not ‘talk’ about it.
    A police man at Clark and Orrington even 1/2 hour between noon and 1 PM might get the message across—a minimum of five bikers in 1/2 hour between 11 AM and 1:30 PM. So far it has been three years since I’ve seen this done.
    Riders will just continue, say they don”t care, say the police won’t do anything, parents [or NU !!] will pay fines or just swear, if told about the law.

  3. It isn’t just the sidewalks.
    It isn’t just cyclists on sidewalks – other behavior is even more dangerous.

    Yesterday right in front of me a cyclist blew through a stop sign without even slowing down and missed a mother with her small daughter by no more than a foot. She was going at least 10 miles an hour and narrowly missed seriously hurting or even killing the child.

    It isn’t uncommon to see cyclists riding the wrong way in the bike lanes, and blowing through stop signs and stop lights.

    Education is one thing, but there also needs to be a level of enforcement. Spend 15 minutes sitting at the corner of Church and Hinman one evening around 5pm and you can watch 80% of the cyclists completely disregard the traffic signs and safety of others.

  4. Get serious

    The problem with Bikers on sidewalks isn't something that came up this year.

    This problem along with the the Rat problem seems to come up every year.

    The fine should be more than $25.00 and enforced.  What would it be if I drove around the downtown area sidewalks in my smart car? Would I be ignored  like the people on bikes?.

    The no biking on sidwalk  sign. Should have been in bright Red or Green. Not a color that blends in

    Either get serious or  quit bringing it up

  5. Ban all bike riding in downtown Evanston

    I know that I am repeating myself (and not necessarily because of my age) but bike riding should not be allowed in downtown Evanston on the streets or sidewalks.  Let's hire young people part time, put them in uniforms and give them police powers to detain and ticket anyone who violates the bike ban.  Have them ride their bikes in pairs with police radios in the event of trouble.   Bike riding should be limited to side streets only.

    1. What do you want–more cars, downtown air pollution ?
      If you ban bikes, what are the alternative ?
      More cars ? More air pollution ? More car accidents ?
      Fewer shoppers ?
      Some if not many commute to the downtown—and further—and just using side streets would make that much more difficult.
      Some people use only bikes—don’t even have/want cars.
      I guess you want to drive your gas-guzzler everywhere.

      Better to ban the cars from Clark to Dempster & Hinman to Ridge.

      1. You can walk, but you can’t ride

        Under my proposal, you can ride your bike to downtown Evanston, however when you reach its borders (to be determined) you must dismount and walk your bike within the confines.  Or the city could install bike parking zones right on the borders of downtown and you would then walk to you destination(s).  This is for the safety of all citizens.  And the downtown area is not all that big that a biker could not walk three or four blocks to their destination.

        1. Better to do for cars

          Instead mark the same area where cars beyond would be prohibited or they just take the CTA and save on pollution and accidents.

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