Downtown merchants got a briefing from city officials this afternoon on plans for new parking meters and repaving Davis Street.

The update came at the annual meeting of Downtown Evanston, held at the new 27 Live music venue on Church Street.

Public Works Director Suzette Robinson said the test of narrowing the 500 block of Davis to a single lane to preserve parking while adding a sheltered bike lane will wrap up by the start of next week.

Robinson said city workers have noticed some problems — including trucks blocking the crosswalk at Hinman to make deliveries — but traffic engineer Sat Nagar said the big test will come this evening and Friday when a lot of patrons of restaurants on the block arrive looking to pick up take-out orders.

Merchants on the block have pressed to keep all the existing parking. Original plans for the bike lane called for switching to parallel parking from diagonal parking on the south side of the street to preserve two traffic lanes.

Water and sewer work on Davis will start May 28 working east from Benson Avenue — with a break for Northwestern University commencement weekend June 20 to 23, so visiting parents will have easy access to restaurants on the street.

The city is scheduled to award the paving contract next month and work on the street, Robinson said, will be wrapped up by mid-October, to avoid interfering with the holiday shopping season.

Business owners and managers at the Downtown Evanston meeting.

Assistant City Manager Marty Lyons said the city plans to hold public meetings about new parking meter systems next month.

He said the city has narrowed the field of eight potential bidders for the project to three and that all three finalists have walked the downtown and other areas where meters are now used  to make sure they understand the commmunity’s parking issues. 

Lyons said the eventual solution will most likely include a mix of new meters that will accept credit cards as well as cash, which are being tested on parts of Davis Street and Sherman Avenue; pay-and-display boxes, like those already installed on Church Street downtown, and pay boxes like those used in some city parking lots that let users make payment for a numbered space.

Carolyn Dellutri.

Downtown Evanston Executive Director Carolyn Dellutri reported that 26 new businesses have opened downtown in the past year, that the CMS Expo conference being held this week at the Hilton Orrington drew about 10 percent more participants than the 435 who attended last year and that the International Downtown Association will hold a regional conference in Evanston next week.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Hello Old Orchard!

    Remember when Chicago Mayor Jayne Byrne Closed down State Street to make it a pedestrian mall?

    Why don't we do the same!  Lets make all of Church Street & Davis Street a pedestrian mall with bike lanes throughout the downtown business district.  No cars allowed!

    It sure worked for all the businesses on State Street.  Didn't it?

    1. Smart meters

      My vote is with yours … smart meters no pay/display payboxes – except for numbered spaces in lots.  Along the street – smart meters only.  Bill … perhaps a poll feature on this article?

  2. Bike lane observations

    Beautiful weather here in Evanston this past week, hardly saw a single rider using the lanes on Church st.  Picked up my kid from ETHS twice this week and not even one cyclist was using the bike lane heading east down Church.

    Church st. is now cluttered and messy looking, traffic is congested and cramped, the streetscape installation is a ununified hodgepodge of excess junk and it's all very uninviting.



    1. narrow dangerous Church St.

      Here here! Church St. is now a major mess. The traffic lanes are way too narrow. There HAS to be an increase in the number of fender benders. If I have to drive there, I do so with one hand on the horn.

  3. Use bike lanes for winter parking

    Perhaps we could make the bike lanes parking for the winter season? Seems like such a waste otherwise.

  4. Bike lane observation

    Sorry you didn't see me or the other cyclist I greeted each day last week on my mutiple trips into downtown from SW Evanston.  The Dodge, Church and Davis bike lanes are in use year round from my own observations and appear to be becoming more popular each year.

    In the colder months most bicycle traffic is folks commuting into or out of Evanston for work or school, that traffic is pretty much in evidence from 5:30am to 9:00 am and again in the evening.  Maybe you missed them?  Summer tends to bring out more utility and recreational cyclist.  They ought to be easier to spot.

    There are a lot of people/residents who do not have cars or find mass transit an option along with cycling.

    1. Daily observation

      I drive Church st. daily, several times a day in fact, all the way down Church from west of Evanston into downtown.  Year round use? Didn't see more than 2 or 3 bikes all winter, which is to be expected.  Now that the nice weather is here there is still very very little traffic on the bike lane. 

      Today drove in around 9:30 a.m.  Not one single cycle, commuter or recreational, not one bike, on the whole trip from McCormick all the way through to Sherman ave.  Pick up my kid from ETHS all the time, few if any bikes are ever on the lane right after school lets out, which was touted as a peak period.

      Drive in every morning during your quoted peak time, usually see maybe, maybe, 1-2 bikes, just as often, zero bikes. Maybe thats you and the other cyclist you greet every day.

      1. narrow dangerous Church St.

        Ditto Daily. I drive as well as bike that route once a day at least. I bike on Lake Street now as I feel much safer there. E-town is more interested in sucking up Goverment funds (taxpayer $$$ in the trillions) than listening to those who are supposedly benefitting by this mess. Remember those pretty brick sidewalks that they had to tear up only a few years after they were installed? I predict the same will be true for these oh so poorly designed bike lanes.

  5. Bike lanes

    I commute to downtown Evanston from SE Evanston by bike in warmer months. Otherwise I drive.

    My experience in the Church street eastbound bike lane (only from Maple over to Chicago) is that riding in the lane is fraught with more hazards than riding with the flow of vehicular traffic.

    These lanes are "protected" in name only, and the set-up endangers cyclists and pedestrians alike.  Folks exiting their vehicle on either side always stroll into the bike lanes, usually looking down at their phones en route to the sidewalk.

    Moreover, the way the bike lane feeds across Sherman at Church is asking for a collision. When driving it is simply impossible to "yield" to a cyclist whom you cannot see emerging from behind parked cars.

    So both as a driver and cyclist I think the protected lanes are a total bust and make for an impractical and ugly streetscape irrespective of your preferred mode of transit (including by foot).

    Better to just double-down on tickets (to cyclists as well) and to educate the public about sharing the road. 

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