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Council to review Sheridan bike plans

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Evanston aldermen Monday are scheduled to review plans for rebuilding Sheridan Road with bike lanes along the Northwestern University campus as well as a proposal to cut the speed limit on the road.

The bike lane project is part of a larger, $13.3 million plan to widen and reconstruct Sheridan which was originally proposed in 2014.

Disputes over the design for the project led to delays — and the city decided to move forward with underground utility work in 2015 but postpone the bike lane work until 2017 so it wouldn't create added traffic jams while the Emerson-Ridge-Green Bay project was being completed this year.

The proposal to cut the speed limit from 30 to 25 miles per hour comes from Aldermen Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, and Eleanor Revelle, 7th Ward, and was endorsed by the Associated Student Government Senate at NU this week.

As described in a staff memo to aldermen for Monday's meeting, the bike route would start as a two-way protected bike lane on the east side of Chicago Avenue at Davis Street and continue north in that configuration to Central Street. There would be four auto traffic lanes on Sheridan from Chicago Avenue north to Northwestern Place and three auto traffic lanes further north.

The protected bike lane would include:

  • A three-foot-wide raised concrete median to separate bikes and motorized traffic,
  • Limited openings onto Sheridan to channel bikes into a smaller number of key crossing areas.
  • Dedicated bicycle traffic signals, and
  • Dedicated bike lane crossing areas at signalized intersections, separate from pedestrian crosswalks.

North of Central Street the bike route configuration would change to a combination of unprotected bike lanes on parts of Sheridan and bike routes along side streets in other segments.

North of Central Street, the plan calls for unprotected bike lanes, shown in blue, and bike routes, shown in red.

The plan also calls for upgrading some existing traffic signals and replacing others with new ones.

The design also calls for reducing the number of marked pedestrian crossings along Sheridan and better marking the remaining ones.

It also calls for creating bus loading areas on Sheridan so buses can pull out of the traffic lanes to pick up and drop off passengers. The protected bike lane will run to the east of the bus loading areas.

The project schedule calls doing the Chicago Avenue section between April and mid-June next year with the work on Sheridan as far north as Lincoln Street to be done between June 19 and mid-September.

The work from Lincoln Street to the Wilmette border would be done in 2018.

The project is being funded in part with a $1.5 million federal grant and $1 million in contributions from Northwestern.

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