The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center has designated Evanston as a gold level Walk Friendly Community for its walkability initiatives and programs.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration and FedEx, Walk Friendly Communities is a national recognition program aimed at recognizing communities for their commitment to pedestrian safety.

Seventy-two communities have participated in the evaluation program so far. Only one, Seattle, Wash., has received the top-level platinum designation.

In addition to Evanston 14 other communities, including Chicago, Minneapolis, and San Francisco, have received the gold level award.

The group praised Evanston for a number of programs and initiatives, including:

  • Providing multiple convenient options for getting around, with a high percentage of residents and visitors walking, biking and utilizing public transit.
  • Maintaining detailed inventories of sidewalks and curb ramps, in addition to the Public Works Department’s progress repairing these elements to ADA standards.
  • Implementing a robust Safe Routes to School program for all 15 elementary and middle schools, with support from multiple City departments.
  • Prioritizing pedestrian improvements and maintaining excellent land use policies that support a truly walkable urban environment.
  • Encouraging community members to lead healthier lifestyles through the Health & Human Services Department’s Women Out Walking (WOW) program. 

Also highlighted was Evanston’s “Complete and Green Network” resolution, which promotes the comfortable and effective use of public rights-of-way and public spaces by all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, public transport and motor vehicles.

“Evanston is proud to be recognized as a Gold Level Walk Friendly Community,” said Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl. “Our city has a beautiful lakefront, a thriving downtown, fantastic schools and historic neighborhoods, and it’s important that all residents and visitors can access them safely and comfortably.”

The Walk Friendly Community Designation, awarded from bronze to platinum, is given to applicant communities that have demonstrated a commitment to improving and sustaining walkability and pedestrian safety through comprehensive programs, plans and policies

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Too many awards are meaningless

    Beside being puzzled by the description of Evanston and even more Chicago qualifying, I think there is a larger point.

    There are all these groups that give awards—I think Evanston recently got one that caused the Mayor to fly to South Korea !

    How are these things done ? By data the town supplies or investigators coming to Evanston/Chicago and testing against well agreed on metrics?

    Anyone watching TV commercials or political group endorsements should know that many/most are meaningless.

    They are some group created and paid for by the group that wants a recommendation—they are not independent.

    The names may sound official and like a certified independent party, but most of the time they are not and the recommendation/award is not worth the paper it is written on.

    1. “Taxpayer Friendly Award”

      Indeed, Evanston has been recognized as a "Walk Friendly Community" and a "Bicycle Friendly Community" and the list goes on – I believe the City of Evanston employs a person who focuses on getting Evanston recognized in the awards sweepstakes.

      I suggest Evanston focus on winning an award for being "Taxpayer Friendly" and stop wasting resources on chasing after silly awards and wasting our money on subsidizing businesses that go out of business.

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