City officials will tell Evanston aldermen tonight that the number of pedestrian accidents has dropped by half over the past two decades, while the total number of motor vehicle crashes has declined by 40 percent.

In 1990, 104 pedestrians were involved in accidents on city roadways. That number dropped to 52 last year. The total number of crashes fell from 3,241 to 1,963 during the same time period.

Those numbers exclude accidents on private property and in alleys. The police department says the total number of traffic crashes last year was 2,458.

Evanston’s worst intersections for pedestrian accidents in recent years.

Police Chief Richard Eddington and Public Works Director Suzette Robinson credit several factors for the improvements — ranging from upgrades to traffic signals and signage to traffic law enforcement and the city’s new ban on cell phone use while driving.

The police department issued more than 19,000 traffic citations last year, with nearly half issued by the department’s six-officer traffic bureau.

Eddington and Robinson are suggesting a variety of ways to increase safety at crosswalks — including the possible installation of solar-powered, pushbutton-activated, flashing signs at school crossings.

Their report suggests that the city form a committee to evaluate which intersections should get what kind of improvements, with members from Northwestern University’s traffic institute, a traffic engineering consultant and the police and public works departments.

The committee would also evaluate where to post crossing guards, whether to add permanent radar speed displays in some locations and consider whether the city-wide speed limit on major streets should be reduced from 30 to 25 miles per hour.

If approved by the council, the committee would hold a community meeting in July to present its preliminary report and present afinal report to the City Council Aug. 6, with a goal of implementing as many recommendations as possible by the start of school this fall.

The report follows concerns raised about a child hit by a car last month in a cross-walk near Oakton School and a rejection by the City Council of a proposal to impose a 24/7 speed limit of 20 miles per hour on Oakton Street.

Related stories

Child hit by car near Oakton School in Evanston

Oakton tops list for school zone crashes in Evanston

Burrus loses bid for lower Oakton speed limit

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. If anybody is taking a vote, the most dangerous intersection in

    If anybody is taking a vote, the most dangerous intersection in Evanston is Grove and Elmwood.
    It is a 2 way stop sign intersection (on Elmwood). It has no pedestrian information for crossing and is heavily used by Metra customers & other families in the area.
    I asked the city to make it a 4 way intersection but they said that is not possible because of the blind spot caused by the Metra Bridge (that is outdated).  They can’t even place a sign to yield pedestrians because the cars coming under the bridge, going west, would be at fault (for hitting a pedestrian) for something they could not see.
    I am told in 5 to 7 years they will make this a pedestrian friendly intersection. I have a 3 year old who likes to run and ride is cycle.
    I am not blaming Evanston because the city has done a great job on Sheridan and that team should be awarded a bonus.

  2. Maybe if people would look before they walk out into the street

    I have lived in many busy pedestrian friendly cities (Chicago, Ann Arbor) but have never encountered such clueless and obivious pedestrians in my life as the ones in Evanston. It is amazing to me that more pedestrians aren't hit by cars every day. It seems like the majority of pedestrians in Evanston, especially in the downtown area, step out into the street to cross without even looking (and not at crosswalks most of the time). And if they do happen to glance to the right or left, they're already half way across the street. When will the pedestrians start to take some responsibility for their actions and start looking both ways before they cross the street? And also respect the "do not walk" crosswalk signs versus wandering out into on coming traffic?

  3. Maybe if people would look before they walk out into the street

    Anon is quite right… "Oblivious" gets compounded when tuned out pedestrians are on their cell phones mindlessly walking into the roadway… A pedestrian actually "ran into" my car while I was stopped recently!

    People need to take responsibility for their actions and stop looking for retrobution (or ridiculous new rules) when they were clearly not paying attention! 

    If you are going to yack on your cell phone when walking (which is likely equally as dangerous as driving, except that one is not propelling 3500 lbs of hard steel with + 200 horsepower) Stop, Look and Listen when approaching a cross walk… didn't we learn that in 3rd grade safety class?

    Respectfully, Brian G. Becharas

      1. 35 mph way too fast for a bike

        In that NYT story about the cyclist killing a pedestrian, the cyclist was doing 35 mph, far too fast to be going for a bicycle not in a race and an unlikely speed as well – only a well trained cyclist could even reach that speed if not on a downhill.

        A more accurate view of bikes and pedestrians mixing is that of the NU campus where all are together on the sidewalks and paths and accidents happen rarely. In almost a decade of riding my bike in that mix, I never saw a bike/pedestrian accident nor did I read of any in the Daily Northwestern. What makes it safe is that everyone expects others to be there and is on the lookout for them, whether walking or riding.

        The real threat is in the bike/car mix and the danger there is entirely to the cyclist, which is not to say that the cyclist may not be at fault.

        1. NU and bikes

          You do not read of bikes hitting pedestrians at NU because NU keeps quiet about almost all crime and accidents on campus unless the story gets noticed by some one who contacts the news media.  You see things all the time and if you try to track it you still cannot find anything.

          With bikers racing to classes and elsewhere, especially on Sheridan Road, and students walking three or four across and not yielding for either bikes or others walking in the other direction, and walking/biking on the left side or in the middle of the walkway or zoned-out on their phone/texting (you can get within two feet of them and they still don't know you are there) the only question is why there are not more accidents.  I know I constantly have to stop to avoid them or pull on to the grass.

          Off campus, just look at the number and speed of bikers on downtown sidewalks and in particular Clark between Sherman and Orrignton.  For a couple of days the police gave tickets but I've not seen them there since.

          By the way, I only bike and walk—no car for more than 20 years.

  4. How about painting the lines?

    I know that finances are tight and the streets can't all be repaved, but one cheap way to increase safety and appearance would be to re-paint all the traffic lines.

  5. Is city crash data not fully reported and therefore inaccurate?

    Today's Chicago Tribune is reporting that crashes are up 9 per cent this year.  I find it hard to believe that people are being less careful everywhere else, but totally paying attention when they hit Evanston.  

    I'm wondering if everyone who is in an accident is actually reporting it these days as our cops only come out to crash sites when someone is injured.  If people are having minor fender-benders, it just makes sense to exchange insurance information and submit the claim.  I know of several people who have had accidents and just handled it without cops or insurance in order to keep their insurance rates lower.  

    As for safety, a bit of personal experience that I can share: I was once knocked right out of my shoes by a car that hit me in a crosswalk as the driver was making a much too fast right turn in broad daylight.  The driver slowed down long enough to see I was still alive and then took off in the wake of my swearing (which was especially zealous since I did have the WALK light)… since I only sustained a few bruises and ruined a pair of the most excellent shoes, I never reported it to the police.

Leave a comment
The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *