Evanston City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz Tuesday night unveiled a new campaign designed to acquaint bicyclists with the city’s bike rules — and the sample posters he handed out just might turn out to be collectibles.

That’s because the versions of the poster distributed at the 1st Ward meeting at the downtown library misstate the city ordinance upon which the campaign is based.

The poster says that the city code bans riding bicyles on sidewalks, when in fact the city code only bans riding on sidewalks in the central business district downtown and in a limited number of other places where signs ban the practice.

The poster also states that the code section exempts police bicycles from the sidewalk-riding ban, when that section of the code contains no such exemption.

After Evanston Now reported the discrepancies this morning, the city manager called to say they’d be fixed, to eliminate the reference to police bikes and specify that bike riding is only prohibited on sidewalks “in designated areas.”

Bobkiewicz said at the 1st Ward meeting Tuesday night where he announced the program that the city was able to get the poster design — and designs for sidewalk stencils and other materials for the campaign — for free from the city of Berkeley, Calif., where he’s friends with the city manager.

He also noted that the campaign poster itself was designed for Berkeley by a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.

The errant phrasing apparently was carried over from Berkeley’s version of the poster.

Bobkiewicz says the mistake won’t leave the city stuck with a lot of copies of the incorrect poster. “The samples I handed out last night were the only ones I had,” he said, noting that the city has no budget to pay for printing for the campaign and is only producing the posters as needed in house.

Meanwhile this week the City of Chicago started construction of its first “protected bicycle lane” that separates bicycles from cars on a street, a concept that hasn’t yet migrated to Evanston.

The biking section of Evanston’s city website does include a bike map showing bike routes through the city, but it fails to note the areas in which bike riding on city sidewalks is prohibitied.

Next week is Bike to Work Week in the Chicago area and a celebration is planned for Friday morning, June 17, at Fountain Square.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Bikes on Sidewalks

    This is really odd, because most people on bikes know the rules pretty well.  I can see the poster being very effective in downtown Evanston, and at the Dempster, Main and Evanston Street shopping districts.

    However, bike riding on the sidewalk is certainly allowable on Ridge, while bikes on the road are not allowed.  If you ride a bike to get across town, At some point you have to use sidewalks on Ridge or Green Bay, there's no other straight line from here to there east of the bike "path" along McCormick.  That this "path" in the City of Evanston is still unpaved is just embarrassing.

    There also doesn't seem to be much of a distinction for kids.  If you are taking the kids to be the beach on a bike, which can be done from most directions in Evanston, you certainly are not going to put a ten year old on the streets.   If you are going to use the paths around James Park, then you need to use sidewalks to access them, same for crossing the bridges to the McCormic paths.  Who would put their kids on bikes on those streets heading into those intersections?

    I have never seen Evanston Police officers on bikes ride on sidewalks.

    1. There are business sections

      There are business sections of Ridge (e.g. between Clark and Emerson)  where you are both not allowed to ride on the street nor the sidewalk. 

  2. How about a nice sign saying

    How about a nice sign saying "The bike route is one block that way"?  There have been complaints about bicyclists on Chicago.  If bicyclists were informed that Hinman is much nicer to ride on, maybe they would go there.

    I've noticed that telling children they can't ride on the sidewalk often just gets them to ride the wrong way in the street, which is worse.

    The new no bike sidewalk stencils downtown are progress, because they show exactly where you can't ride.

    1. Bikes can ride on Chicago Ave.

      I don't understand the comment: "There have been complaints about bicyclists on Chicago."

      What is the basis for complaints?  The only street where bikes are (stupidly) forbidden is Ridge. 

      I really wonder why in the world the city manager is wasting time making posters instead of actually improving the cycling infrastructure.

      There are two reasons people may ride their bikes on the sidewalk Downtown: One is because the streets are designed specifically to discourage bicycling.  The one way streets make no sense from a multi-modal standpoint.  They were only converted to one-way traffic to accommodate automobiles.

      If the city doesn't want to switch the streets back to two-way traffic, there is no reason that Downtown streets can't be outfitted with contra-flow bike lanes like they have in Boulder and elsewhere.

      The second reason that cyclists may ride on the sidewalk is because there is a deficit of bike parking Downtown and what bike parking infrastructure we have is entirely situated on the sidewalk. 

      Again, there is a simple solution: put bike parking on the street like they are doing in Chicago.

      1. I think the complaint was

        I think the complaint was people were riding on the sidewalk, but it wasn't me complaining… Contra-flow bike lanes are a good idea.

      2. Bike Parking on Street

        is an excellent solution.  I saw it work very well in Columbia, Missouri, where one parking space can handle eight bikes and get them off sidewalks.

        Chicago Ave. is an excellent route for riders who are commuting and traveling.  Hinman may be more scenic, but it also has more stop signs.  Bikes on Chicago Ave. are also traffic calming.  Evanston drivers have a habit of inventing turn lanes that are not marked and do not exist, especially on Chicago Ave.  Sorry, if a bike is in front of your car at a light, you are just going to have to wait until the light turns green to go.

        1. “Chicago Ave. is an excellent route…” You have to be kidding

          Chicago Ave. is probably the worst of the streets to ride bike.  The cars move faster than most other streets, and they take no consideration of bikers.  Sherman [beside the wind from the Plaza that can make it almost impossible to move] is dangerous esp. from Clark to Davis because of diagonal parking; cars on Church and Davis don't want to provide any room for bikes esp. from Chicago Ave. to Orrington.  On Davis and Church cars pay little attention to the bike lanes and they and buses park on the bike lanes.

          Try riding on Lincoln esp. from Asbury to Ridge.  The cars seem to see how close they can come to bikes, bikes are also endangered from being thrown because of all the potholes and broken pavement. 

          Noyes and Foster are also bad because of the cars parked on the side esp. from  Sherman to Chicago.

          Anyone who thinks Evanston is bike friendly either does not ride a bike and/or works for the city and has to defend it.

      3. We also need protected bike lanes

        While we are on the subject of Evanston's dismal bike planning, lets add another thought to the excellent ideas relating to on-street bike parking and contra-flow bike lanes: buffered bike lanes.

        Once again, we see Chicago moving swiftly to implement bike buffer lanes. A bike buffer lane basically flips the car parking lane and the bike lane so the car parking acts as a buffer between car and bike traffic.

        It also reduces the possibilities of cyclists getting "doored" by people leaving parked cars. The whole setup increases safety–which is the biggest barrier to getting people to cycle.

        It seems crazy that Mayor Emmanuel can get a project like this implemented in a manner of weeks while Evanston dithers and wastes its time on posters!

        Right now the city is repaving Dodge which would be a perfect place for buffered bike lanes. Will the city actually put into practice progressive thinking? You really can't make a cost argument against it since it is simply a matter of switching where you paint the lines on the pavement.

  3. We have money for poster campaigns?

    We have money to print elaborate posters that are basically, expensive "Don't step on the lawn!" signs? The many official signs are not enough? Is this really such a huge public safety issue in Evanston? 

    How about more and better bike lanes. That way nobody would ever dream of riding their bikes anywhere else. 

  4. Bicyclists Ignore the Rules of the Road

    One way to pay for those lovely signs is to make bicyclists have license plates for the bikes at such a cost that it discourages bicycle riding.  Bicyclists NEVER stop at stop signs.  They wave their hands in the air as if that means something. 

    Bicyclists NEVER obey traffic signals!! 

    There's a man who rides his bike on Kedzie, east of Chicago Ave who has a young boy ride his bicycle behind him.  The adult NEVER stops at a stop sign and the young boy blindly follows him.  Drivers do not see the youngster and there have been several near-misses.

    Idiots who ride their bicycles w/the baby carts on the back also ignore stop signs and traffic signals … whose fault would it be if the bicyclist who ignored the traffic rules and the driver who didn't see the cart on the back of the bike hit it?

    I've seen whole families riding bikes down Hinman and when the adults ignore the traffic signal on Himan and Main the kids behind them follow … there's been near misses with that, too. … with adults oblivious to what's going on behind them.

    and .. good grief, bikes should NEVER be on Ridge, Chicago Ave, Main St, Dempster, Oakton, Lake St, Central, they should NEVER be on any of the busy streets.

    The scofflaw bicyclists have gotten so bad that now I see motorcyclists ignore stop signs … soon, cars will be ignoring them, too.

    Bicyclists beware, though, I have seen car's barreling down Himan Avenue, blowing stop signs and traffic lights.

    1. Problem is “rules” are written entirely from car perspective

      Many of the issues here–as well as the differences of opinion apparent in the comments–is really emblematic of the failure of 20th century conventions in traffic engineering and the characteristics of the car itself.

      Lets remember that bikes predate cars in cities. In fact prior to the introduction of automobiles (and trans/streetcars), cities didn't even have traffic laws. There were no stop signs, traffic lights, etc.

      In the large industrial city of the late 19th century people made their way around without any of these "rules of the road." "Rules" only became needed when cars–life-threatening technologies of mobility–were introduced.

      Because of the utter danger of cars there needed to be pretty strict rules to minimize collision. This was fine, since there was a real need to streamline and rationalize traffic in order to keep automobilists safe.

      The problem is that traffic engineering and road design concentrated SOLELY on automobiles at the expense of other vehicles and pedestrians. It wasn't until the 1970s when transportation planners started to think about the need to accommodate different modes.

      The problem was that we had already built an infrastructure that was mono-cultural and these "rules of the road" (based on the automobile's needs) had been inscribed as something bordering on inherent truths of the universe.

      Over the past 40 years, therefore, planners have tried to basically put lipstick on a pig, tacking on bike lanes on peripheral streets, putting ill-designed bike racks in out-of=the way places, etc.

      Compare this to the care that is taken to accommodate cars and you see the problem. As an example, Evanston has extremely detailed requirements for auto parking for new residential and business developments. There are no requirements for bike parking.

      Fast forward to 2011. Petrol is at $4.50/gallon. We are seeing the problems of anthropogenic climate change. Our country is fatter than ever. Health costs are on the rise because of lack of fitness. Air quality is poor.

      None of these serious problems are getting any better and government officials at all levels are largely failing to tackle them by reforming transportation policy. Instead of improving the infrastructure, they produce posters. Instead of changing the "rules of the road" (for instance to allow bikes to treat stop signs as a yield like they do in Idaho), we predict the second coming of Mad Max.

      Let's get real: promoting biking is better for the entire population, even if you never step foot on a bike. More biking results in better health (reducing health care costs). More biking reduces congestion (making the air cleaner and allowing drivers more freedom. More biking results in better air quality (benefiting everyone). Ditch the posters and start getting to work on actual promotion of cycling.

      1. Car perspective? How about human perspective?

        >Lets remember that bikes predate cars in cities.

        And pedestrians predate cyclists.  Can we agree just to go back to walking?  (I don't, as rule, have trouble with bikes while driving, just in my more frequent pedestrian travels.)

        As long as we're radically remaking our society in this comment thread, why don't we just restructure things "a bit" so as not to require most folks ever to travel further than they could reasonably walk?  If that were so unworkable, our ancestors wouldn't have ever had the chance to produce us, right?

        > allow bikes to treat stop signs as a yield like they do in Idaho

        {shudder}  Thank goodness Idaho is too far to walk…


    2. Bicyclists and rules

      >Bicyclists NEVER obey traffic signals!!

      Rings true to me, doubly so for stop signs.  I've never really had too many close calls with motorists in Evanston, but cyclists' sense of entitlement (to priority/right of way/space/you name it) seems to know no bounds.  (Especially the packs of MAMILs that frequent the north-south routes during commute hours and on weekend mornings…)

      I haven't seen too many instances of the "oblivious parent and string of ducklings" offenses, though I did have part (a nominally adult part) of such a procession run over the slack in the leash between myself and my dog a while back.  (On a sidewalk, naturally.)  I suppose it's too much to hope that, rather than revising the posters from Berkeley, we might be able to "improve" our local ordinances instead…

    3. Not a fan of bicyclists

      I take the train to work, so I am not a fervent motorist to say the least, but I find bikes and bicyclists to be very annoying as well.  They seem to think that they are entitled to blow off all stop signs and stop lights and are visibly upset when they are forced to obey the traffic laws the rest of us abide by.  Even on the train bicyclists are a nuisance as their bikes occupy three or more perfectly good seats that actual human beings could have been sitting in.

      In my opinion, bikes do not belong on the roadways and they do not belong on the sidewalks.  If I were in charge, bikes would only be allowed on bicycle paths- and these paths would be far enough away from the rest of society so that the bicyclists would not present a danger or a nuisance to the rest of us.

      1. Think of how many…

        If we outlaw cars within the city limits, we would have a lot fewer problems than the 'bike hater' suggests for bikes.

        I got rid of my car 20 years and don't miss it.  I can bike or take public transportation for where I need to go.

        Yes there are bikers who do the things the writer mentions.  A few police officers at a few spots [Sherman and Orrington from Central to south of downtown would be a good start] on Saturday and Sunday issuing tickets might get the message across to those bikers who think their thin biking suits will protect them from cars.

        Of course you probably have more pedestrians who walk against the light, cross in the middle of the street, etc..  Some get hit, some cause accidents from drivers avoiding them.

  5. rules do help keep bikers safe

    I'm a biker and a driver – and – although the above poster is right that the rules are auto-centric, the truth is, if you are going to have bikes on the roads, they need to follow the rules.  They need to stop at stop signs and stop at red lights if they want to stay safe.  Not everyone who drives a car hates bikers.  What I do hate is being put in danger by people who think that their vehicle (in this case, a bike) is exempt from the rules.  I recently saw a bike get hit by a car in Seattle (a very bike-friendly place).  And it was completely the biker's fault.  Her bike path had a stop sign before a crosswalk where the path crossed the street.  She didn't stop, and the car that was going through the crosswalk couldn't have seen her more than a couple of seconds before she zoomed into him.  Luckily, she got away with only a broken leg and some bruises.

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