Can we talk about pedestrian safety? Evanston officials and their  transportation consultants will hold a workshop with residents to do that Tuesday.

“Pedestrian safety is a growing issue in many communities especially during summer months and as we approach the beginning of the next school year,” says Public Works Director Suzette Robinson. “It is our hope to bring a diverse group of community members together in conjunction with city staff to discuss pedestrian safety and strategies.”

The workshop will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 24, in Room 2200 of the Civic Center,   2100 Ridge Ave. There will be no formal presentation, so residents can stop by at any time during the workshop.

Engineering staff, members of the Evanston Police Department and outside transportation consultants will be on hand to discuss and collect feedback on pedestrian crossing designations and priorities, school route safety and education, high volume pedestrian crossings and speed reduction strategies.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Pedestrian crossings

    At the three* Pedestrian Crossings where the signs tell drivers it is state law, I'd say three cars in each direction run thru the sign before one finally stops when it is clear someone is trying to cross and off the curb and even if they blow a whistle.

    It would be nice to see the police stop some of these motorists.

    *Foster and Ridge, Central and Poplar and on Clark between Orrington and Sherman.  The latter is most dangerous since NU students just cross without looking and with their heads buried in I-Phone, music or texting.

    1. Ticketing

      Police should ticket those vechiles that clearly are not stoping at designated crossings when peds are present.  Additionally, they should start ticketing the Jaywalking.  I see peds crossing on busy streets 25-50 feet from an intersection or crosswalk.  It is particularly out of control downtown and is very hazardous to peds and drivers alike. 

      1. The few blocks around

        The few blocks around downtown are chaotic, always, mostly because car drivers looking for parking are erratic.

        You will see a car slow down on the right lane and suddenly cross over to the left for a parking spot. It is ridiculous and such maneuvers should be ticketed as the infractions they are.

        Given that the traffic is so slow, and that the traffic lights are not sensitive to traffic (and pedestrians cannot request a walking signal), it is not a surprise people jaywalk.

        The traffic lights in Evanston could use some modernization. They must react to the presence of bikes, they must have pedestrian signals.

    2. I’ve seen a driver stopped by

      I've seen a driver stopped by police *once*. I was crossing Clark at the crossing by the NU School of Music and a car approached fast, revving the engine in a threatening way. The driver was 'unlucky': as he was revving the engine, he did so right next to a (somewhat startled) policeman, who happened to have his window open. He stopped the driver on the spot.

      As a driver, stopping at a crossing is always scary as cars behind do not seem to expect it. I am afraid I will be rear-ended at the crossing by Jewel on Chicago Avenue.

      Enforcement would be nice, not just of pedestrian crossings, but of the ordinance not to use cell phones while driving.



      1. the “hit from behind” excuse

        To say that one might be hit from behind for stopping too quickly is not a valid reason for determining driving behavior. It is the responsibility of every driver to leave adequate space so that the driver in front can do anything, including slamming on the brakes, without being rear-ended.

        This HFBE (Hit From Behind Excuse) is used all the time and most recently by those who don't like the idea of traffic cams monitoring intersections. "I'll spot the camera, hit the brakes and get rear-ended!"

        What the excuse says is that one will risk hitting something or someone, or will violate a traffic law rather than hitting the brakes, because someone behind may not be driving properly.

        So the logic is: I must drive improperly in one manner because others are driving improperly in another.

        If one puts the situation in the rear-view mirror ahead of what is in front of one's eyes, the priorities are wrong.

        1. I commute to Evanston

          …by motorcycle and sometimes end up passing eastbound infront of ETHS where there are multiple crosswalks.  I often am afraid to stop because of the tailgating drivers behind me possibly rear-ending me.

          In a car, getting rear-ended is an annoyance.  On a motorcycle you end up dead.

          In general more education & enforcement is needed for crosswalks.  I'm always looking but other people aren't.

  2. You are correct on so many

    You are correct on so many levels. The state did a poor job in enacting pedestrian crossing laws. Drivers just don't get it. Some stop when they do not have to; some just blow right through.

    I recently returned from Williamstown, Mass., where they write on the pavement: "Stop, Look, Wave." Great idea, except it puts the burden on the pedestrian and not the drivers. As far as NU students go, accept it, they've been "J" walking since there were horse and buggies!

  3. Church crossing

    I've been very concerned when I have stopped in the ped crossing while in the "left lane" on Church St just west of ETHS, because vehicles approaching in the "right" lane do not realize that there may be someone crossing and continue to approach/pass. There is no official street indication of two separate lanes but traffic separates in two lanes anyway. It may be beneficial to create one lane only and officially create a separate but protected bike lane for this area. Traffic is already heavy in this area, but for safety reasons it might be worth it, after all wasn't a student hit at the beginning of this summer here?

  4. More on pedestrian safety

    While they are looking at pedestrian safety….. the appropriate city department needs to create a long-term plan to repair Evanson sidewalks – all over Evanston.  They are treacherous.

    1. How true. Many sidewalks are treacherous

      As a daily runner through the streets of Evanston, I see dangerous sidewalks all over town.  Broken concrete, sidewalk heaves created by trees, generally decaying walkways– they are everywhere.  Some of the worst sidewalks are in the nicest areas of town. 

      And while we're on the topic– how about property owners whose sidewalks are overgrown with shrubs and trees, making them largely impassable?  There are countless sidewalks that either require you to crouch down (or risk losing an eye) or squeeze off to the side (onto the 12" of sidewalk that is actually usable).

      And don't get me started on all of the inconsiderate homeowners, property managers, and store owners who think that it's too much trouble to shovel off their walks after snow and ice storms.

  5. Pedestrians need training too.

    I second many of the above comments and am happy to see more attention being paid to enforcing the rules for drivers of automobiles at crosswalks etc.  However, I must add that pedestrians in Evanston are getting out of control.  An example: I recently was driving south on Chicago Ave. and, at Main, had a green light to continue through the intersection.  At the same time, a pedestrian stepped off the curb to cross Chicago Ave., east to west, against the light.  I slowed, tapped the horn, and then stopped, as she continued across the street, looking at me angrily as though I was in the wrong.  Unfortunately, this is all too common, as it seems more and more pedestrians — and bicyclists — act as though the rules are only for the drivers of automobiles. 

  6. More accident reporting

    EvanstonNow can only report what the police report, but we all see accidents [some bad] that are never reported anywhere I can find—and I look for days.  Drivers may [choose to] not  realize how many accidents [car on car and car on pedestrian] there are and continue to drive recklessly.

    While not a traffic accident [as far as I could tell], I saw three police cars stop a van, police frisked the driver, others had guns drawn and they were getting ready to tow the van.  Yet no reports in EvanstonNow, Roundtable or Review.  It makes us wonder how much is not being reported—Council wanting little reporting so everything looks fine ?

    At/around NU you see accident but no report of those in the Daily unless the police, Now, Roundtable, get ahold of it.  Again you wonder whatelse on campus they keep quiet.

    How many pedestrians are hurt that we never heard about ?

    I'd like to see more police efforts where a plainclothes officer is by a crossing and when he sees a violation radio to an officer who is very close.  The same for bikes on downtown sidewalks.  It seemed the police stopped offenders for two days and then gave up.

    1. File a FOIA for more information

      If you want information about something you have seen but which is not in the police reports, file a Freedom of Information Act request with the city.


      In your request try and give as much information as you can and cast your net widely.  So for your Van example say: I would like to request any documents, photographs, correspondence, arrest reports related to any traffic accident occuring at X intersection on Y date."


      For something more general–like your example for the pedestrian accidents–just ask for all data, reports, information involving pedestrian accidents for a specific period of time.

      There will be no cost for copies of the first 50 pages. 

      You can also inspect documents for free–without obtaining copies.

      The police don't have the time or interest to release ALL public data and information.  That's why we have FOIAs.  If there is some bit of public information you want to see you have the right to see it.  Exercise your right.

      Making requests is extremely easy–just an email to the City Clerk will suffice.


  7. Diagonal parking on Sherman

    There may be a good reason for diagonal parking, but it scares the living daylights out of me when on a bike.

    You rarely can see when someone is pulling out until there is danger of them or a car/bike going south, getting hit.  I don't know how many accidents [or near] there are but I'd bet more than a few.

    I avoid Sherman downtown as much as I can.


  8. Central St.

    I would like to see more police patrols/stops on Central street (in the shopping district).  So many times I've tried to cross at one of the marked pedestrian crossing with my kids and none of the drivers will yield, or worse, only on one side and we get stuck in the middle.  My son was almost hit one time by a driver who failed to yield when we were already in the middle of the crosswalk!

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