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Groups of bicycle riders who use the car lanes on Dodge Avenue may soon be targeted for tickets by Evanston Police.

Aldermen Cicely Flemin, 9th Ward, responding to complaints from a couple of residents at a ward meeting last week, said she wants “cyclists riding in those big herds” to use the bike lanes.

“You’ve got 50 cyclists, all in the street” slowing auto traffic, Fleming said. “They’re not going to do that on Dodge any more. We’re going to have to ticket them. I don’t know how you change behavior otherwise.”

The state vehicle code and city code don’t explicitly tell cyclists to only use bike lanes when they’re present, but Sgt. Tracy Williams, head of the Evanston Police traffic unit notes there is a more general state vehicle code provision that reads “Official traffic control devices may be erected directing specific traffic to use a designated lane … and drivers of vehicles shall obey the directions of every such device.”

Williams says a few tickets citing that provision have been written and upheld in Skokie district court.

The Dodge Avenue protected bike lanes drew sharp criticism from some nearby residents when they were first installed last year. That led to some modifications to the design — including removing many of the plastic bollards that deliniated automobile parking areas along the street.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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37 Comments

  1. A bad idea

    This is a bad idea. The point of bike lanes is to improve safety, not to speed up car traffic. These lanes are very narrow and not suitable for larger groups. These groups also tend to ride fast, and passing slower bike traffic in the lanes (say, families or elderly riders) would be near impossible. It is disappointing to see that police will ticket in response to isolated complaints even in the absence of clear regulation requiring the use of bike lanes. 

    1. A good idea

      Ciontrary to popular belief, bicycles do not own the road. The pleasure riding clubs and groups are indeed a traffic hazard, not only on Dodge but everywhere. Seems that there is a law that something to  the effect of “ride single file” . A “herd” as seen are a clump 3 and 4 abreast on the street. Ticketing them would be helpful. 

      1. Actually …

        There is a provision in the state vehicle code that lets cyclists ride two abreast as long as they don’t impede traffic …

        (625 ILCS 5/11-1505.1) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 11-1505.1)

           Sec. 11-1505.1. Persons riding bicycles or motorized pedal cycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than 2 abreast, except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for their exclusive use. Persons riding 2 abreast shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic and, on a laned roadway, shall ride within a single lane subject to the provisions of Section 11-1505.

        It would seem that, now that speed limits have been reduced on so many Evanston streets to 25 miles per hour, the spandex-clad high-speed cyclists should be able to keep up with traffic. (But where there are bike lanes, they may be restricted to those lanes, which aren’t wide enough to ride two-abreast.)

        — Bill

        1. Ok, what part of the code

          Ok, what part of the code would be used to force cyclists into the bike lane? Does it have reasonable exceptions for when there are obstructions or hazards in the bike lane? (This happens frequently.)

        2. Speeders

          Right, i am one of those cyclists and we are routinely traveling at 25 mph on dodge and 30 down Church…so if the cars are being slowed down, the cops should be ticketing them as they are the ones breaking the law by speeding. And if cyclists are forced onto the bike lanes, that are typically covered in sticks leaves, glass, etc. as well as cars entering the lane turning onto Dodge, then cars should be forced onto the highways and interstates, since those were built specifically for cars…Evanston was founded in the 1850s, about 60 years before the Model T so those roads were never designed for cars but other forms of transportation like street cars, horses and guess what, bikes!

          1. Bike track around Crown ?

            Maybe the bikers who travel in packs and run lights should contribute [100%] to a bike track around Crown. Then they can live their fantacy of being Lance Armstrong and maybe make it into an event like Northbrook(?) has/had.

          2. Lance

            Maybe you should pay for it all and then you can go live out your fantasy of being Jeff Gordon in your car?

          3. Amazing

            What is your gripe against cyclists in Evanston?  I know.. you have too much time.

            Evanston should be proud that among many other cultural things… it is a very active community, particularly in the cycling circles.  We have 2 bike shops.  We have some of the finest rides that depart from Evanston.  We have some of the finest amateur and semi pro riders in Evanston. 

            it is amazing to me that Evanston is a hotbed for openess… an open tent for all cultures and classes because of it’s liberal nature.  But.. I guess cyclists don’t qualify do they.  

            Everytime I travel, and see group rides… I smile, and then tell myself, this must be a pretty nice place to live.

            I guess not so much in Evanston… too many negative people like Guest here.  Too much arguing for the sake of arguing.  I guess you are looking for your next cause to march for?  Sad.  Accept how diverse Evanston is… and how athletic.

          4. Why Dewey?

            I bike everywhere around Evanston and Chicago, and it absolutely amazes me when I see these large packs taking up the entire street (Dewey or Asbury being the N/S avenues, and Dempster or Oakton being the E/W corridor). It isn’t about transportation for these groups – this is recreation, and apparently it’s just no fun if they ride 2-abreast or in single file. It doesn’t recreate the false frísson of being in a bike race. If you want to go pack-style, use Sheridan, the lakefront path, the Forest Preserve Trail, Skokie Lagoon or N. Chicago River trails. Or do your ride from Evanston NORTH on roads that can support that kind of traffic with a passing lane or a decent shoulder.

            I can never understand this need to ride through the middle of the city on heavily trafficked streets, sucking car exhaust, slowing traffic and opening the opportunity to get doored at high speeds. It’s just pretentious if not outright dangerous.

          5. Bike lanes littered with debris

            I walk my dogs along Dodge from Main to Oakton every day.  The bike lane on the east side of Dodge is always littered with debris.  Cans, large pieces of broken glass (broken bottle bottoms lying with the pointed shards facing upward), plastic chunks…. I will note that I never saw quite as much broken glass in the gutters prior to the bike lanes being added.  I’ve actually wondered if people are smashing glass in the lanes purposely or if the street cleaner really is incapable of cleaning all the way to the curb.  One would hope it is a street cleaner issue and not an issue of our fellow humans causing harm due to dissatisfaction with the lanes.  That being said, I regularly step into the bike lanes to kick the larger chunks of glass from the center of the bike lane all the way to the curb so that our bicyclist friends have a greater chance of avoiding them. 

            No matter what mode of transportation a person chooses, we are still a community.  Watching out for our neighbor, even if we don’t like how they drive their chosen transportation vehicle, makes a better impact than armchair animosity.

            I’ve walked down Dodge regularly since we moved to our home in 1999.  I have a great appreciation for the new lanes.  I no longer have bicyclists roaring past me from behind as I traverse the sidewalk on Dodge. This has led to a sharp decrease in startled moments.  Whatever the issues are with the Dodge bike lanes, as a community, I am sure we have a great ability to use our intelligence to resolve them rather than spread hate through vocal displays of armchair animosity.

          6. You need to check your cateye

            You need to check your cateye if you think you’re routinely traveling 30.  It must be set up for a different sized wheel.

          7. Speed?

            hows that? I have strava and GarminGPS data to back up my claim ..Yesterday along dodge I averaged 24.7 mph, I think my top speed average on Church is around 32 mph…The point it, it’s hard to slow or impeed traffic when you are doing the speed limit…If there are cars trying to get around us, then they are speeding. That’s the point. Cars can’t really get mad at cyclists who don’t allow them to speed and don’t allow them to run stop signs…

    2. Ticket Public Works Trucks

      Classic over reaction. Two people complain about bikes and a policy decision is made? Good luck trying to enforce this. All bark no bite. Maybe tickets can be issued to public works trucks that drive ridiculously slowly to the job sites or back to the yard along Dodge and Asbury. Way bigger headache for commuters trying to get to work.

      1. All of what you’ve said is

        All of what you’ve said is true, but while we are pointing out behavior by those that use our roadways, how often have you seen a bike rider stop at the red light, get off their bike and proceed only after getting back on their bikes? Most often what I see is they rarely use the roadway the way the rules call them to do.

        1. What?

          You’re saying that cyclists have to get off their bikes at red lights? Do motorists have to get out of their cars, too?

          — Bill

          1. I’m saying some that ride

            I’m saying some that ride bikes don’t stop at the light, stay on their bikes and when the light turns green, they sometimes move too close to cars trying to get a jump on cars. It can be dangerous. That’s all I’m pointing out…..

        2. City Code Citation?

          Please give  us the reference.

          Like so many things, people make these things up.

          How many times have you heard ‘no bikes on sidewalks’ ?

          Yet the Mayor, at least one alderman and Commander Dugan in a recent police report  to the community said that is not true. Only sidewalks in marked downtown and a few other marked sidewalks.

        3. Iron

          Yet you probably typed this on your phone while driving and rolling through a stop sign…

          and since when are cyclists supposed posed to get off their bikes?? I think most drivers get upset at cyclists because THEY don’t know the laws, not because cyclists don’t know the law. 

      2. Public Works trucks

        Being a former employee of the City of Evanston, I would like to address the issue of slow moving Public Works trucks. Frequently, people in passenger vehicles like to fly around those trucks and very often cut them off. Unknown to a lot of drivers out there big trucks are harder to stop than passenger vehicles. City employees are exercising due caution to try to avoid accidents with other vehicles which eventually cost the city money in frivolous insurance claims. Perhaps, if you left for your job five minutes earlier you could avoid your headaches as well endangering yourselves and others.

    3. Hoo-boy.  I’m a rider and

      Hoo-boy.  I’m a rider and driver who often defends bikes against mindless criticism.  But anger that a bike might have to wait for other bike traffic?  I’m not really all that sympathetic.  Let them pass when the bike lane opens up at an intersection. 

      The point of the bike lanes is to improve the interaction generally.  Cyclists being jerks about things doesn’t do that.

  2. This will not have the desired affect

    Drivers are upset with group rides on the weekends heading down Dodge. They complain, the police will ticket one or two groups. The group rides will then use Ashbury instead, they will not use the Dodge bike lines because riding in a group requires consistent predictable traffic patterns. Meanwhile the police will have wasted a bunch of time and resources ticketing the group riders. While of this is going on, drivers will be driving and texting all over Evanston putting cyclists and pedestrians lives at risk.

  3. Before focusing on this, the

    Before focusing on this, the police should ticket drivers that park in the bike lane or make turns when a cyclist has the right of way. It’s hypocritical the way drivers complain about cyclists but ignore their own behavior.

  4. Why is life more sacred on Dodge than Asbury?

    The new bike lanes on Asbury (from Main to Howard) are not next to the curb as they are on Dodge, but are positioned between the parked cars and moving trafic.  If the configuration on Dodge is for saftey, then why not the same for Asbury?

  5. Drivers, Cyclists and the Streets of Evanston
    With all due respect, the new bicycle lanes have increased safety for conservative riders. Those that wish to ride in packs should be subject to the rules of the road if they choose to ride on the streets meant for cars. Sadly, the pedestrians who have to cross the bike lanes are the ones who must be careful to not get struck by a cyclist. I’ve been scolded by cyclists about crossing the bike lane, lest they forget that the pedestrian has the right of way and they must yield to pedestrians. I guess laws must be rewritten to accommodate new lanes and traffic flow. Also, if cyclists want better rights maybe they should consider getting a law that requires cyclists to be licensed, get insurance and pay for license plates and other fees that could generate funds to help pay for the streets they ride on. Regulations create safer conditions.

    1. “I’ve been scolded by

      “I’ve been scolded by cyclists …”

      Frankly, I don’t believe that you’ve been scolded by a cyclist more than once.  I walk a lot, and have never been scolded by a cyclist in my life.  People on both sides of these threads like to exaggerate out of all proportion the actual impediments they face.

      1. Yes! It happens!
        I couldn’t believe it when a cyclist scolded me the other day! The bike lane and driving lane merge at Church, so I followed the lines, and pulled toward the curb to turn right. A cyclist hollered at me… something about the bike lane and her tax dollars. She didn’t realize the lanes merged there, but more importantly, I believe she felt I was out to get her. That I wanted to turn right first and cut her off. I could not care less from which lane I turn right. She was half a block behind me when I stopped the car, but if she’d been at the corner, I would have happily let her go first.

        This animosity, as if cyclists and drivers are two different species, has got to stop. I am both a driver and cyclist. I am exhausted by the constant bickering about the damn bike lanes. GET OVER IT AND GET ALONG!

        I like the bike lane because I don’t like riding in heavy traffic. I have never been in a situation (i.e., pedestrians, broken glass, cars pulling onto Dodge) that has endangered my safety or inconvenienced me more than standard traffic on any street.

        It has been my experience that some of the cyclists are traffic rule breakers and a bit rude… but so are some of the people driving cars. It’s time to stop this us vs. them attitude… It’s all just traffic. We are literally among the most fortunate people in the world. We have good streets, good bike lanes, and educated people. Let’s take this argument down a few notches.

  6. Bicycle riding on Dodge

    If the Alderperson Cicely Fleming’s statement is correct that “You’ve got 50 cyclist, all in the street”, Evanston has become  an ecologically correct city and the administration should find more ways of reducing auto traffic and pollution.

  7. pack mentality

    my dog and I have also come within inches of being run down by a pack of spandex clad speedsters who were speeding through a stop sign.  that being said, can’t we find a place for them to ride unimpeded by cars or pedestrians?  Northbrook has a velodrome, maybe we should include one in the new plans for the crown center.  or make every Sunday from 5am to 6am pack riding time on specified streets.  ticketing?  good luck catching them.

    1. Wow.  Given the

      Wow.  Given the capriciousness of dogs, you probably should have kept a bit further from the roadway till you had verified that no one was coming.  If your dog was that close to a group of cyclists, you could have cause a really bad accident.

      1. Why assume the pedestrian was wrong?

        Perhaps the pedestrian and dog were already well into the crosswalk when the group of bicyclists ran a stop sign.  Not everyone walks at a brisk pace.  Or perhaps the bicyclists surprised the pedestrian as they rounded a corner after running the stop sign. 

        I don’t have anything against bicyclists but let’s not assume that the pedestrian was in the wrong, either.  Vehicles (including bicycles) need to stop or at least slow down for pedestrians to cross safely. 

        If the pedestrian was in the crosswalk, it was the bicyclists’ running the stop sign that would caused an accident.

      2. Pedestrians have the right of way

        Pedestrians have the right of way over cyclists.  Perhaps cyclists should stop at stop signs like they are legally supposed to do.

  8. The new bike lane design is mostly to blame

    Many cyclists are opting not to ride in the new “protected” bike lanes that were installed on Dodge last year for a very simple reason: they can be terrifying and dangerous compared to the old design that was replaced (where the cycling lane was placed between moving traffic and parked cars, rather than to the right of both).

    I am sure the new design was well-intentioned and seemed like a good idea for all (and I applaud those efforts and desires), but my experiences there have lead me to believe it is more dangerous this year than it was two years ago for the following reasons:

    1. Passengers of parked cars are less aware of cyclists than drivers. Look at the photo of the bike lane attached to the article. If a passenger of the van were to suddenly swing open the door while a cyclist is passing, it would result in a terrible accident involving injury or death to the cyclist. There is simply not enough of a buffer between doors of parked cars and the cycling lane, especially when vehicles park on or over the solid white lines (I see this daily). Additionally, while people are walking to or from their car, they rarely think to look for cyclists before entering the lane. Or they use the cycling lane as a cargo lane, blocking travel.
    2. There is more debris (branches, glass, garbage, snow, ice, etc) along the curb. From my experience, the city does not do a good job of cleaning the bike lane, as I doubt they can fit street cleaning equipment in the lane without removing the barrier posts and all of the parked cars. Therefore, debris sits in the cycling lane for a long time, waiting to puncture tires or make a rider lose control and crash. This often forces cyclists to stay away from the curb and ride closer to the deadly doors of parked cars (see #1).
    3. The bike lane is mostly hidden from the view of drivers. Drivers often do not notice or forget about the bike lane when making turns, due to it being obstructed by parked cars. It’s shocking how many drivers make turns on Dodge with zero awareness of the bike lane. On one single ride down Dodge, I had to slam my brakes in two separate incidents involving cars making sudden right turns without yielding. The drivers had zero idea I was in the bike lane despite being inches away from collision.
    4. There is no room to pass other cyclists safely. One of the great things about cycling is that it’s a sport and method of transit for people of all ages and abilities. Of course, this results in cyclists traveling wildly different speeds from one another. Some ride at 5-10 mph, while others (especially group rides) can hold 25-30 mph. With a bike lane that is hardly wide enough for a single cyclist, the safest option to overtake other cyclists usually involves temporarily merging into the vehicle lane when it is safe to do so.

    Considering those issues, I try to use Asbury as a detour to get around that death trap when I can. When I do ride with large groups through Dodge, we’ll often split one line of riders into the right side of the car lane and the other in the cycling lane, with both sides moving over 20 mph and doing our best not to impede traffic. The alternative is to have all of us riding single file stretching over an entire city block. Trust me, you would not prefer that (good luck making any turns until the entire group passes).

    Finally, let’s not forget that one of the stated goals of last year’s project on Dodge was to slow traffic: 

    “Many complaints claim the new lanes have slowed auto traffic on the street — but the staff memo says slowing down the traffic somewhat — to make travelling on the road safer — was one of the goals of the program.” Source: Evanston Now.

    It sounds like the city and its police should be thanking cyclists for occasionally helping with that important goal, rather than testing interpretations of existing laws and ticketing them.

    1. Excellent comments.  As a

      Excellent comments.  As a casual biker myself, as well as trying to be a more patient driver when I see any bike rider(s), the goal for me is to simply use more common sense on the roads.  Are there idiot bikers who can easily give “all cyclists” a poor reputation?  Yes!  Are there idiot drivers who can do the same?  Yes!  

      We need to recognize the idiocy of the extremes and focus on the common sense of the majority.

    2. PBLs are more for slower

      PBLs are more for slower riders. They encourage people they might otherwise be too scared to bike to do so. The shortcoming aren’t as big of a factor for these riders. Faster cyclists should be allowed to use travel lanes if that’s where they feel safer. If you’ve seen the new lanes on Chicago Ave, you would see that they are absolutly not safe for a cyclist at 30mph.

      I’m not sure the right hooks are all unintentional. The design leaves the space near the intersections clear so drivers can see bikes. Many drivers do not see bikes as traffic and are under the belief that cyclists should yield. Signs telling cyclists to watch for turning vehicles do not help.

      Drivers who are in a hurry should be using McCormick.

    3. Bike Design

      You forgot about the runners, double wide strollers and dog walkers who have now decided that the bike lane is ALSO for them…It’s very hard to squeeze one bike, let alone 20 bikes, between the runners, parked cars and curbs…Near impossible actually.

      Hey, when those bike lanes are clear of glass, debris, runners, sticks, leave piles, ice, doors and turning cars, I am sure we would be happy to use them…And for the record, we do…The law allows riders at 2 abreast, which is how we ride through Chicago, in Evanston, our group typically splits into two, one in the bike lane and one on the road but there is NOT enough room for us to all fit in one lane.

      And you forget, unless we are riding with unemployed homless people, we are tax payers too. We also have cars and drivers licenses, we also have jobs and pay income taxes we also buy groceries and pay sales tax so when you say cyclists “own the roads”, you better believe we do, just as much as cars do…Especially through cities that were built for other modes of transportation long before cars were invented.

      And you are mistaken if you think it’s bikes that cause traffic to slow…There are no bikes or bike lanes on 94 or LSD and I routinely sit in traffic behind cars…I’ve never been in a bike traffic jam though in fact, most morning rush hours the bike lanes on the LFP move faster than the traffic on LSD so if you are slowed up getting somewhere in your car, it’s likely because of other cars and if you would rather all 20 of us drive down Dodge, I think you will find that 20 cars will indeed impeed traffic a lot more than 20 bikes…That again, are going the speed limit…

      So to recap, ticket speeding drivers, runners in the bike lane and clean the glass and debris out of the bike lanes and maybe we will use them. But if runners have taken over the bike lane, and you are now saying we can’t have that 3 foot sliver between parked cars and traffic, then I guess we have to start riding on the sidewalks…

      And remember that, we take up a 3 foot sliver, cars take up the entire rest of the lane…So agian, who is causing traffic to back up?

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