Despite complaints from two aldermen, plans to rebuild Sheridan Road to make it safer for pedestrians and bicyclists remained on track at Monday’s City Council meeting.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, objected to the decision to maintain four-lane traffic on Sheridan from Chicago Avenue to Northwestern Place.

Fiske, apparently forgetting about the section of Sheridan near Calvary Cemetery, said, “Nowhere else do we have four lanes of traffic on Sheridan in Evanston.”

She suggested the planned reduction to three traffic lanes from Lincoln Street to Northwestern Place should be extended to Chicago Avenue as well.

Lara Biggs.

But Engineering Bureau Chief Lara Biggs responded that the traffic that makes four lanes necessary on that stretch “isn’t going away. There’s no other north-south connector on the east side of town.”

Fiske also said that the widening of the road in that section to accommodate four auto lanes plus two bike lanes makes it “present more of a barrier to pedestrians than it does now.”

Christina Cilento.

Christina Cilento, the president of NU’s student government, praised most aspects of the project, but voiced doubts about whether the plan to reduce the number of crosswalks would be effective. “Students need to get to class quickly,” Cilento said, “and feel as if they’re invincible.” So they’re likely to cross at spots that aren’t designated crosswalks.

Picking up on that, Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said she was “mortified that students would be crossing wherever.”

Rainey, still smarting from complaints about the new protected bike lanes on Dodge Avenue in her ward, added, “This is a disaster waiting to happen. Did we learn nothing from Dodge?”

But later she reversed course, saying, “I’m totally in favor of this project, but we have to think more carefully about it.”

Don Wilson.

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, who’s an active bicyclist, said he thinks the project “is well designed and well tailored for the road.”

“With thousands of students walking to class, Sheridan is a pedestrian thoroughfare” as well well as a route for bikes and cars. “It’s very important to make these improvements,” he added.

Supportive comments also came from Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, who said the design “organizes the various users of the street and gives them an appropriate place to be with proper signalization,” and from Alderman Mark Tendam, 6th Ward, who said the project had been through a very thoughtful design process and had the luxury of more funding than other bike lane projects in town where the city “just carved bike lanes out of existing pavement.”

Related story

Aldermen vote for 25 mph limit on Sheridan (10/18/16)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Sheridan Road bike lanes

    Was't there a law at one time that banned bicycles altogether on Sheridan Road? The law was never enforced but, as with the leaf blower ordinance, is it still on the books? Just curious. Motorists seem be the last people considered. Cutting lanes on such a busy thoroughfare serving the entire North Shore adds considerable frustration over congestion already exacerbated by uncoordinated stop lights. Why not keep Sheridan at four lanes, coordinate stop lights, especially at designated pedestrian crossings and place bike lanes in the parkways next to the sidewalks more safely away from vehicular traffic?Also, where busses and delivery vehicles frequently stop, as in front of Tech, could parking lanes be cut out of the parkways so traffic would be less hindered?

  2. Try it out first

    Before they pass ordinances and the street/biking change, do they [and NU people proposing it] try it out ?  I.e. bike on Sheridan Rd.and east and west side of Sheridan from Lincoln to Universiiy Place at 9 AM and 5PM ? That would give them a real idea of traffic and problems. If they cannot physically bike, get a chair and observe.

    Maybe if they had done so on Dodge there would not have been so many problems.

    Have they biked on the lanes of Church and Davis—and also noticed the cars/truck parked in the lanes ?

    If officials/proposers would try things out and observe before acting on proposals, it would save a lot of time and money—and with the lanes injurys.

    As it is, it seems to be "Ready, Fire, Aim" or to quote Nancy Pelosi "pass it and we'll see what is in it."

  3. I Give Up
    I had a huge response in my head to type about how this is extremely dumb, but I decided it was not even worth it.

    Thank god I’m moving out of this town in less than a year.

  4. Concrete Nonsense.

    There are stupid ideas and then there is whatever this construction project is. Build it stupid, build it complicated, build it with 200 workers, build it expensive, build it in concrete so everyone is stuck with somebody’s special little multi-use road improvement project. This is just a needless nightmare to complicate something that just worked fine. This project demonstrates utter contempt for practical road improvement and the time of both commuters and residents. But I’m sure someone special got paid for their special idea. Looking forward to getting rear ended. 

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