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Some merchants are objecting to plans for a bike lane in the 500 block of Davis Street in downtown Evanston because it will eliminate diagonal parking there — reducing by 10 the number of on-street parking spaces.

Diagonal parking spaces in the 500 block of Davis Street — empty late Tuesday evening — but in high demand, merchants say, for restaurant customer parking earlier in the day.

Some merchants are objecting to plans for a bike lane in the 500 block of Davis Street in downtown Evanston because it will eliminate diagonal parking there — reducing by 10 the number of on-street parking spaces.

Ted Mavrakis, who owns Giordano’s pizza at one corner of the block and owns the building housing Todoroki, said there are five restaurants on the block, “and that creates a very serious situation for parking.”

Mavrakis said half of his business comes from customers who pickup a pizza at his restaurant, and they want to park very close to the door.

“I have another store in Morton Grove, and the pickup business there is twice as large as in Evanston, because I have pickup parking there,” Mavrakis said.

He suggested that the city could solve the parking problem by purchasing the now-vacant lot around the corner at 1515 Chicago Ave. and using it for parking — an idea that didn’t win any takers among aldermen concerned about what that solution might cost.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, suggested the bike lane could be moved a block or two south — to Grove or Lake streets.

“We need to be mindful that we get revenue from these busineses,” Fiske said, “and what they’re saying is that the loss of those 10 spaces would have a dramatic negative impact on their business.”

But Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward said the City Council had already voted last year to do — going eastbound on Church and west back on Davis.

And Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, said the bike route, which is intended to extend from McCormick Boulevard to the lakefront is importatn to regional bike plans.

“Skokie talking about extending their bike path on Church Street to meet with ours, and once you get to McCormick you’ll be able to go almost anywhere,” Grover added.

Aldeman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward said she agrees with the idea of completing the two-way bike loop.

“I see more and more people using it on Church Street,” she said. Wynne suggested that city staff reexamine the streets adjoining the block to see if any additional parking spaces could be squeezed into those. “Look at all the loading zones to see if they’re still being used. Make sure we’re not wasting some space.”

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, said, “It’s critically important to make sure we have a safe route for bikes.”

Wilson, a cyclist himself, said he initially didn’t favor protected bike lanes, but has come to believe they play an important role in providing a safe option for riders to commute and shop downtown.

“We want to keep moving cars and bikes from coming into contact,” Wilson said. He conceded that cyclists could still be “doored” by a passenger getting out of a car, “but it minimizes the risk of a more serious incident — you’re not falling into a lane of moving traffic where you’ll be killed.”

The bike lane also drew support from one speaker during the council’s public comment session. Natalie Watson of 820 Oakton St., said the bike lane will attract more young people to dine at downtown restaurants.

She suggested the on-street parking problem is caused by the city under-pricing on-street parking.

“If you charged a makret price for parking,” Watson said, “more people would park in the garages and people would walk, cycle and take mass transit more.”

Public Works Director Suzette Robinson said Davis Street in the 500 block is narrower than it is in the rest of downtown and that to have any room for a bike lane at all, the diagonal parking would have to be eliminated.

The aldermen, under pressure to act soon on the Davis Street repaving project to be able to get it completed during this year’s construction season, voted to ask staff to come up with alternatives for the 500 block of Davis for next Monday’s City Council meeting, but move forward with seeking bids for the overall project.

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Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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10 Comments

  1. Fit and Frisky when it comes to biking

    Intersting to note that Alderman Fiske owns a business "Fit and Frisky" on Davis street. Conflict of interest?

  2. There is plenty of parking 600 ft away from Davis

    Mavrakis' statement about the impact of losing 10 spaces and having the city transform 1515 Chicago into a parking lot is a little silly.  Just 600 feet away from Giordanos there is a municipal garage filled with empty spaces.  

    Fiske's suggestion is silly too.  You need to have bike lanes located where they can serve business destinations on Davis and the downtown core.  Second, the bike/ped/auto conflict is minimal on Grove and Lake, those streets are quite narrow, and would require removing twice as many parking spaces to accommodate bike lanes.

    We're not building bike lanes just to build bike lanes.  We are trying to improve mobility in the city and give people safe options for getting around.

    1. take it from a biker

      I now won't ride on Church St. Was that the intention? Lake St. is just fine as it is. Why screw it up with some dim-witted plan.

  3. bike lanes = increased consumer spending

    For the merchants worried about bike lanes reducing their profits, reports from cities that are putting in bike lanes are showing the opposite. Bike lanes increase consumer spending, because cyclists are more likely to drop in more frequently than drivers or those on public transit. Here's one article that looks at studies done in Portland and New York: http://www.mnn.com/money/personal-finance/blogs/bike-lanes-tied-to-increased-consumer-spending.

    So Davis Street loses 10 parking spaces – there is still a plethora of parking available in the parking garages. Maybe add some bike parking in, to encourage cyclists to stop and eat.

     

  4. The steady increase in utility cycling..

    in Evanston over the last few years shows the importance of the bike lanes in bringing residents into downtown. More cyclist are commuting to and shopping in the core business district in the winter months, an activity once mainly done by either the dedicated or those with no other choice. 

    The addition of the bike lanes encourages folks who would prefer to ride but know the sidewalk is too dangerous and are intimidated by street riding.  Our protected bike lanes bridge that perceived safety gap.

    If Mr. Mavrakis wants to make life really easy for his pizza customers he can institute a call ahead service for pick up.  Customers can just call him from their safely stopped car and he can bring out the pizza. Now that would make Girodanos stand out.

    Kudos to Alderman Grover on recognizing the regional nature of bike and transportation planning and also to Aldermen Holmes, Wynne and Wilson on continuing to support the bike lanes.

  5. I’d be more inclined

    I'd be more inclined to consider some sort of a bike lane if cyclists weren't such abject failures at sharing the road (never stopping at red lights or stop signs, riding on the wrong side of the road, eaving in and out of lanes, etc.).

    1. Thankfully cars always follow traffic laws to a T

      These arguments are weird.  Do you have bikers who bike recklessly?  Yes.  Do you have drivers who drive recklessly? Yes.  Do you have pedestrians who walk recklessly?  Yes.

      What is your point? What does this have to do with building infrastructure for different forms of transportation?

    2. cyclists are horrible people?

      Really? We're going to pretend that all drivers always come to complete stops at every stop light? And never do K turns on busy streets. Or turn right on red when there's signage indicating no right on red? Or back up on a one way because they just saw a parking spot open up and if they go around the block it'll be gone?

      Not all drivers follow the rules. Not all cyclists follow the rules. That shouldn't hamper improving infrastructure to keep everybody safe.

  6. Before expanding east on Davis

    Before expanding the bike lane east on Davis St, it would be nice if the existing bike lane between Sherman and Ridge is repaved and more clearly marked. There are huge potholes by the L and Metra viaducts, the lanes are constantly occupied by delivery trucks, cars stopping to pick up or drop off Metra passengers, and even buses idling their engines.

  7. Side Streets Not Main Streets

    I say put the bike paths on side streets, not on main streets through Evanston.

    It's not the single bicyclist that I have issues with.  It's those mobs of uniformed bikers who blow every traffic light and stop sign.  They think that just waving their hand give them the right of way..  Warm weather is coming and they are the biggest nuisances.  Even if you call their attention to a stop sign, they just laugh.  I can hardly wait until some old geezer who comes to a full stop at a stop sign and fully expects the bicyclists to do the same and they don't and the old geezer plows right throw the mob (that's what they are, actually, a mob, just as bad as any flash mob, running through stores and  robbing while they run).  Of course, the old geezer, who way obeying the law, will get blamed and not the mob of bicyclists will not.  People will mourn, put flowers and teddy bears and say 'what a bad old geezer.' when the bicyclists should be condemned.

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