Even though it’s barely mentioned in the plan, a dispute over bikes on Davis Street west of Asbury Avenue derailed efforts to approve Evanston’s new bike plan Monday night.
At least 10 residents of the three block stretch of Davis between Asbury and Florence avenues showed up at a City Council meeting to oppose a project currently being designed by city staff to extend the newly-constructed protected bike lane downtown on Davis Street west through their neighborhood.
“This absolutely does not make any sense,” said Rebecca Kuchar of 1414 Davis St.
Kuchar said the 27-foot-wide street should remain a bike route, as it is now, but that removing parking from one side of the street to make room for a bike lane would greatly inconvenience residents.
She suggested the city should should use Greenwood Street if it wants a protected bike lane in the area. Greenwood is more than a quarter mile south of Davis.
The Evanston Church of God, which has no off-street parking.
The Rev. Howard S. Hendrix, senior pastor of the Evanston Church of God at 1332 Davis St., said eliminating parking on Davis would impose a severe burden on elderly and handicapped parishioners who’d have to walk farther. “It would be the death knell for our weekly Sunday service,” Hendrix said.
Peter Hague of 1302 Davis St. said he generally supports the bike plan, but that it would be premature to ask council to approve it. The plan calls for at least $4 million in spending citywide, he said, and Evanston has much greater needs for that money.
City officials have said they plan to seek state and federal grants to cover most of the bike plan’s cost.
Sandy Lichty of 1425 Davis St. argued that nothing “as intrusive as a protected bike lane” could be done without the approval of the city’s Preservation Commission, given that much of the neighborhood is in a historic district.
And Sara Schastok, president of the Evanston Community Foundation, who said she’s lived at Davis and Ashland for 28 years, claimed that while the city sought out the views of cycling advocates in developing the plan, that it was done “without consulting the residents of our neighborhood.”
City officials say the plan was developed with an extensive community engagement process in which all residents were encourage to participate.
Alderman Peter Braithwaite, whose 2nd Ward includes about half of the three-block stretch of Davis that neighbors complained about, said that he’d met with public works staff last week who agreed to postpone the bike lane project until next year to provide more time to develop the best design for it.
At the request of Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, the council voted to postpone discussion of the citywide bike plan until a future meeting.