Evanston drivers who didn’t get the message from the signs barring turns into the left lane of Church Street from northbound Maple Avenue will have a stronger reminder to comply starting today.

This noon a city worker was replacing the plastic bollards which drivers making the illegal turn regularly knocked over with massive plastic barriers to block the turn maneuver.

And in case you are thinking you might nudge one of the plastic barriers out of the way — don’t bother. They’re all filled with water — making them a heavy obstacle indeed.

Here’s a Google Maps image from a year ago — showing one of the old plastic bollard missing after being run over by a car.

The illegal turn into the north lane at the Metra viaduct has been common for years because it positions drivers to continue north on Maple after crossing through the viaduct. To stay legal, northbound drivers entering Church at Maple have to continue east on Church to Benson before they can again head north.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. bicycles

    Now maybe they can find clever ways to make bicycles use the expensive new bike lanes. I constantly see cyclists riding south on Chicago on the side of the street opposite the two way bike lanes. 

    1. Need signs for bicyclists

      There was an accident last week caused by an illegal left turn from the right hand lane.  This should have been done long ago.

      Now, if they will put big “no bicycle” signs for bicyclists going the wrong way in the bike lane under the bridge at the same corner.  Someone will get badly hurt when a car doesn’t expect them heading westbound under the bridge.  (The same is true the other direction a block away at Davis.)


  2. Honest question

    Preventing people from continuing north on Maple seems to be a priority for the city. But I’m trying to figure out why. Is there a secret history of deadly mishaps at this intersection? Is it simply that crossing an extra lane of traffic will prove dangerous (because that’s what you do anytime you make a left turn)? I ask this in all honesty because I’m constantly confounded by this blockage and forced to take a completely circuitous route in order to continue north on Maple north of Church. 

    1. So ugly

      Those dirty orange barricades are hideous – if this is going to be a permanant traffic control solution, couldn’t they at least do some streetscaping? Hope this is just a temporary solution.

    2. Honest Question

      The problem is usually drivers not familair with this intersection.  They dart out to make the right across two lanes of one way E/B traffic doing about 30 mph.  The next problem is the drivers making the illegal left at Maple right after the viaduct from E/B Church not realizing traffic in the far left lane of Church is wizzing by. It happens all the time.  Do yourself a favor and visit Google Earth and zero in on this area and you will see how dangerous this area is.

      1. Yes but…

        Thanks for taking on my question. But drivers are only crossing one lane of automobile traffic (and a bike lane) to get to the other side — as I said, much like you’d cross a lane of traffic to make a typical left turn, if Church were a two-way street. Second of all, the problem of people trying to make an illegal left at Maple after the viaduct would be mitigated if they were able to get to the left lane to turn prior to the viaduct. Like I said, I live near the intersection and experience it firsthand quite often — no Google Earth needed.

        1. exactly the problem

          Drivers coming down Church don’t expect cars darting out across their lane from northbound Maple. And, as you can see, the problem is not unfamiliar drivers, but local folks.

          A permanent pavement divider going west from the Metra tracks would be as or more effective, and more attractive.  It would also be useful to have one sticking out a bit east of the Metra tracks, so drivers can’t turn left on northbound Maple from the right hand lane at the light just east of the Metra tracks.  Going out of your way a block to make life safer for everyone isn’t that big a sacrifice.  (You can also go over 1 block to Oak and then turn east on Church.)

          Then, if we can also discourage the westbound bicyclists on Church, the intersection would really be much safer.

        2. I agree

          I agree, Sean. Seems to me that having the barricades have simply made things more dangerous and motorists should be allowed to go into the left lane (before the viaduct) to take the left on Maple. It’s actually LESS dangerous than making a typical left turn as you only have to look for traffic coming from one direction instead of two. I don’t know of any history of accidents at the intersection, but it’s possible that they think parked cars could block somebody’s view? That’s my only guess. Has always seemed silly to me and creates a more dangerous situation with people trying to take a left onto Maple from the right lane on Church rather than just letting them be in the left lane to begin with…

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