People interested in how to better fit bikes onto busy Sheridan Road and Chicago Avenue will get a chance to explore some options for doing that Saturday morning.

The city’s hosting a bike ride along the corridor starting at 8 a.m. from the downtown Evanston Public Library and an open house to discuss current conditions and possible solutions at the Rotary International building from 9 a.m. to noon.

As shown in the illustration above, one option is to have a two-way bikeway down the west side of Sheridan Road from Central Street to Chicago Avenue.

The city’s drawings indicate a bikeway on the west side might be less likely to require removing trees — because the existing parkway on the west side of the street is two feet wider, and the sidewalk two feet narrower, than on the east side of the street.

But much of the existing bike traffic along Sheridan now travels on the wider east sidewalk — which is closer to most Northwestern University campus buildings.

Traffic counts conducted for the city indicate that nearly 1,000 bicycles, more than 9,000 pedestrians and about 18,000 cars pass through the Sheridan Road and Chicago Avenue intersection each day.

A diagram of an intersection with a pedestrian refuge island in the center of the street.

The city is also considering including various design elements to improve pedestrian safety in the project, including “refuge islands” in the center of some intersections.

Over a five year period ending in 2012 the Sheridan-Chicago corridor saw more than 350 traffic accidents. Eight percent of those involved pedestrians, and six percent involved bicyclists.

But pedestrians and bicyclists were far more likely than motorists to be seriously injured in the accidents in which they were involved.

The city has received more than $4 million in government grants to help implement the improvements on the Sheridan Road and Chicago Avenue corridor.

More information about the project is available online.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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