Just 14 residents turned out for a community meeting to discuss planned bike lane improvements on Dodge Avenue and Church Street in Evanston Thursday night.

Some complained, during the session at Erie Community Health Center, about the loss of parking along Dodge that will result from moving the bike lane there to the curb — protected by parked cars — from its current position adjacent to the traffic lane.

One man said he’s had the driver’s side mirror knocked off his car three times while it was parked on the street and he fears what will happen if cars have to be parked even closer to the travel lane.

But another resident said he strongly favored the protected bike lane configuration for the added safety it provides cyclists

The Dodge Avenue plan was approved by the City Council Sept. 29 on a 6-3 vote and the city has been awarded a $480,000 federal grant to help pay for it.

Alderman Peter Braithwaite, whose 2nd Ward includes portions of Dodge Avenue, voted against moving to the protected lane lane configuration, saying he favored a “buffered” option that would add a painted strip between the bike and travel lanes, but keep the cars at the curb.

He told residents at the meeting that he’d been meeting with other aldermen to try to explain the inconvenience the loss of parking would cause and that he also hopes to work out an arrangement with the new owners of the Evanston Plaza shopping center to let residents use the plaza for overnight parking.

The protected bike lane approach is expected to require eliminating about 17 percent of the 532 parking spaces along Dodge while the buffered lane strategy would have cut that to a 11 percent loss.

The plan to extend the existing Church Street bike route from Dodge Avenue to McCormick Boulevard drew far less criticism at the meeting.

Public Works Director Suzette Robinson said the increase in the number of people riding bikes during the eight years she’s worked for the city “is huge, and keeps increasing.” She said the city needs to respond to that growth by providing safer ways for cars, bikes and pedestrians to co-exist on the city’s streets.

Related stories

Protected bike lanes for Dodge win split vote

City maps route to complete bike path on Church

City gets grant for bike lane on Dodge

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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1 Comment

  1. Buffered Lanes

    Whatever is decided, my hope is that we avoid "disappearing bike lanes" at major intersections.  They pit bicyclists against motorists who are making right hand turns, thereby creating dangerous situations.

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