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.

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.

Related story

City considers massive bike lane expansion

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Davis St. bike lanes

    Two problematic assertions & one suggestion about the Davis St. bike lane:

    Suggestion: Make Church Street a two way street, and put bike lanes in both directions. This has the advantage of connecting with the McCormick trail and the lakefront, and any Mayfair-trail-to-be, plus it would placate the NIMBYs on Davis St.  Problem solved.

    Problematic claims:

    1. For Peter Hague to assert that Evanston "has much greater needs for that money" assumes that his needs priorities are shared by all.  Is there a "greater need for money" than that which contributes to our own survival by mitigating climate change? Bicycling infrastructure is an important component of fostering human-powered over fossil-fuel-powered transit choices.   Climate change is an emergency that governments everywhere are addressing waaay too slowly. Including ours.

    2. Since when is street design that prefers cars and their need for parking space somehow "historic" whereas bicycle infrastructure is not?? How are bicycle lanes are "intrusive" but noisy, dangerous, pollution spewing cars are fine? The historical fact is that those historic houses on Davis street were built before cars were prevalent–one resident even commented that they were "lucky" their house came with a garage?" The whole reason Evanston is as walkable and bikable as it is is because it was built before the advent of cars and the sprawl cars engender!

    1. Bike vs. Cars—China and U.S. [Evanston]

      Many will recall 20 years ago video of major cities in China where bikes filled the streets–few cars.

      A Web search show that was not a false impression but also the significant rise in pollution in China since so many switched to cars.

      How many of the U.S. [Evanston] citizens rail against pollution but contiinue to drive cars even when there is a bus or train and they are only going a few blocks ? We certainly see politicans rail against pollution but fly all over the U.S. for campaign benefits, or to make appearances to get votes or international supposedly on 'fact finding' but need their kids and spouse along—and of course drag security, staff and reporters—a 'twofer' they not only cause more pollution but raise the cost of government on the taxpayers expense so they can play tenniis/golf and get a tan, oh yes they may pick-up a leaflet along the way to justifiy their trip.   This is from the President on down.

      How many Evanston residents [esp. those that campaign against pollution] drive to Chicago or even jobs in Evanston when public transportation—not to mention just biking or walking—is available.

    2. I Thought

      I thought it was Global Warming we were supposed to be afraid of?

      Oh oh, I forgot… After the data scandal; you all had to rebrand it to Climate Change.  


      1. Global Warming is the cause of Global Climate Change
        Global warming refers to the overall increase in average temperature of the global climate. Nearly 100% of scientists studying the climate agree that global warming is happening. Over 95% agree that human activity is a significant factor in this warming. The impact of overall global warming is climate change. The climate change is not always ‘hotter’ in an obvious way. For example, the numerous polar vortexes we had this winter could have been caused by the increased temperature disrupting typical weather patterns at the north pole causing the extremely cold winds that are usually stuck up there to escape and come all the way to Chicago.

        In any case, global warming is the cause, and climate change is the effects.

        Of course, there could be a vast global conspiracy, and we will make the world a nice place for no reason at all.

  2. I’m a big bike supporter, but the neighbors have a point

    I agree with the comment that the streets in Downtown Evanston should be put back to a two-way configuration.

    I am a big supporter of new bike initiatives and a 4-season biker; however, the stretch of street they are talking about–Davis west of Asbury–doesn't need a protected bike lane.

    It is a residential stretch that sees very little through traffic.  Protected bike lanes are designed to protect bikers from auto traffic.  That stretch sees so little auto traffic, that you really don't need the protected lanes.  It really is a waste of money.

    The larger issue for me is that this indicative of poor city staff leadership and performance.  The idea came from staff in Public Works and it is really unclear what sort of research they did to decide that this stretch of Davis needs protected bike lanes.  There have been numerous questionable decisions coming from Public Works over the past few years (e.g. the money lost on the yard waste scheme).  The City Manager and Council need to take a close look at what is going on in that department.

    1. Smart Comment

      Without a doubt, you have the most intelligent post. It solved the Davis St. problem. Nobody else came close to doing that.

      The big issue remaining is the ugly and unneccessary protected bike lanes. The city can save a lot of money by painting lines on the street and enforcing the law.

      1. Stick with the status quo & ignore complete streets!

        Good way to save money, b/c enforcing the law is totally free. And paint is well known for its powers of protection against 1-2 ton cars that acheive killing speeds.  This plan will totally encourage young and old alike to ride bikes instead of driving. Perfect.

  3. The city is already failing

    The city is already failing to maintain bike-lane markings on for example, Dodge south of Oakton.  If such maintenance is so difficult, why create more unmaintained lanes?

  4. Side Streets

    Looking at the picture I would have to agree with the residents. Do we really want protected bike lines on all the side streets. thos that disagree need to talk a ride down most of them and perhaps see that they appear not to be needed. I drove from Dodge to Ridge on Church earlier. I think going  past Asbury with some of these protected lanes is a bit to much.

  5. A suggestion for safer bike travel — why wouldn’t it work?
    We have underutilized sidewalks (almost always on both sides of the street) throughout town. My suggestion below does NOT apply to designated business areas such as Davis/Church, west of Ridge, etc., where pedestrian traffic is heavier. Other solutions need to be devised there.

    My suggestion: make one side of a street’s two sidewalk “bike lanes” so that bikes should be ridden there. Pedestrians take the other side. For example, bikes always on the west and north side; pedestrians always on the east and south side.

    You could chose to walk on the “bike side” but you, as the pedestrian, must yield to bikes…stay far to the right, single file and keep alert.

    In areas where there aren’t sidewalks on both sides, build another sidewalk if at all possible. For those streets where two sidewalks aren’t possible, bikes and pedestrians share as they do now

    I love to ride my bike but I do it on the sidewalk almost exclusively (not in the commercial districts but up Ridge and Asbury, for example. I walk my bike in the commercial areas.). Biking on the sidewalk is much safer than encountering distracted drivers talking on their cell phones, applying makeup, texting.

    Also, separating pedestrians from bikes would improve safety as well. I encounter pedestrians outside business districts very, very infrequently and I use my bell and tell them that I am passing on the left before I make that move.

    Can someone tell me why this would not work? I am certain that it is not ideal but it improves safety for bicyclists and pedestrians at a reasonable cost with minimal explanation of what is allowed and not allowed.

    1. Bikes belong in the street. Pedestrians belong on the sidewalk.

      This is wrong. Biking on the sidewalk is more dangerous.


      Bikes are vehicles. They belong on the road. The city is doing a good job of improving bike facilities in Evanston (though I agree that dedicated bike lanes are unnecessary on quiet residential streets). If you're driving a car, recognize that you have a responsibility to other people, that you are imposing costs on others, and that bikes have at least as much of a right to be there as you do.


      1. Article points out how it can be done
        Thanks for the article.

        The article disfavors having bikes and pedestrians using the same sidewalk — so do I. I advocate separate sidewalks (one now called a sidewalk, the other called a bike path) but allowing pedestrians to use the bike path briefly if they need to to access a home or business on the bike path side.

        It details ways for designers to minimize the dangers of drivers not expecting bikes on these new bike paths. I hope that the City of Evanston proponents of these complicated bike path ideas take a look at those easy designs.

        I see the article as providing additional support for my suggestion to convert one side of the existing sidewalk to a bike path in all locations outside commercial areas. It can be done and should be done.
        The statement “[i]f you’re driving a car, recognize that you have a responsibility to other people, that you are imposing costs on others, and that bikes have at least as much of a right to be there as you do” presents several laudable goals. But they are not reality. The one sidewalk to bike lane conversion helps protect our bicyclists with more than just hope that drivers will do the right thing while driving.

  6. Biking on Sherman

    No argument that Davis and Church are dangerous streets to bike on.  The bike lanes may provide a bit more protection [or false sense of ?] if as always you don't get 'doored', trucks are not parked in the lanes [as across from EPL, which the police do nothing about] and if cars even bother to pay attention to them.

    But Sherman from Clark to Davis [Davis to Grove is a little better] is a nightmare because of heavy traffic, lane changes to turn at Church and most of all diagonal parking meaning you never know when a car will pull out and whether the driver can even see a biker [or car] coming into their path. It is so bad I bike down Hinman or Benson [if turning on Davis] to avoid the danger—it has probably been two years since I've dared to bike on Sherman !

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