The city’s loudest method of announcing snow parking restrictions — the emergency siren — continues to draw criticism from many residents, but won’t be going away anytime soon.

That’s because while a quarter to a third of Evanstonians responding to a survey think the sirens shouldn’t be used to announce snow parking bans — the rest say they should.

Evanston aldermen took no action Monday night to change the city’s siren policy, after receiving a staff report on the survey and plans to improve snow removal efforts.

The survey found that some new technology solutions are more popular than the sirens.

Email notifications were the most popular, preferred by nearly two thirds of survey respondents, followed by text messages — and those forms drew far fewer complaints than the sirens.

A problem for the text message approach was that just over half of the 250 people who responded to the survey said they had no experience with them — compared with only five percent for the email alerts.

So city staff plan to encourage motorists to sign up for either email or text alerts when they pay their wheel tax this fall. You’ll have to opt out on the wheel tax form to not be signed up for the alerts.

Only a few survey respondents said they relied on social media, 311, ECTV or the telephone snow hotline to learn about snow emergencies.

The survey didn’t ask people whether they learned about snow emergencies from local media outlets.

Streets and Sanitation Superintendent Jim Maiworm says crews next winter will focus more on plowing streets all the way to the curb — to reduce problems with narrow streets becoming impassable for emergency vehicles.

And he said the city plans to test a program of plowing sidewalks on designated safe routes to certain schools, using new smaller plows designed for sidewalk use.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. “Snow Sirens” and 9-1-1

    If the City wants to continue this practice, they should pay a fee to the Village of Wilmette for every call placed to 9-1-1 from their residents asking why the sirens are sounding. It's only fair.  

  2. I don’t mind the sirens, but 

    I don't mind the sirens, but  I've found that the text alerts can be spotty.  I always get the street cleaning ones.  I only get the beach status ones periodically, when it should be daily, I believe.

  3. Sirens are best

    The snow sirens going off at least an hour before the plowing starts is still the best idea. Sirens are (or should be) heard by all residents. Text messages would be best for second choice.

    I think the biggest problem with the snow sirens is that a good percent of residents that have just moved to Evanston are not aware as to WHY they are going offf. Landlords should be asked to notify residents November 1 about the sirens and what they mean. Landloards could also text tenents.

  4. Ze Germans

    Snow may be one thing – but when Ze Germans come for us – we will appreciate those sirens!

  5. It’s odd…

    Being a recent resident, I was surprised to learn about the actual reasons Evanston's emergency sirens go off: approaching tornado, other impending natural disaster, enemy attack on the United States, and….snow parking ban. So, either our deaths are imminent, or we can't park on the street.

  6. Signs?

    What about all those street signs that indicate the conditions under which a snow parking ban goes into effect??  Could we read them and skip the noise?  Text if the ban is NOT in effect?

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