As aldermen debated Monday night how to respond to complaints that Evanston’s street cleaning signs are unreadable, Alderman Ann Rainey said she’d come up with a solution — temporary signs taped to trees by volunteers at the start of street-cleaning season.

“That’s led to total compliance,” Rainey said, “and it doesn’t take much time.”


Paper signs posted in March won’t help an unwary visitor snagged by the parking police with a $75 ticket in July, but one thing that’s notable about Rainey’s paper signs in the photo above is that they are more readable than the metal signs the city now posts on the streets.

Here’s a view of an existing street cleaning sign on Wesley Avenue north of Greenwood Street seen from two car lengths away.

Zoom in on the image and you can just begin to make out what it says, but you can probably more easily read the “No Parking Here to Corner” sign that is more than twice as far away.

The “No Parking Here to Corner” sign complies with design standards in the federal government’s Manual on Uniform Trafic Control Devices, while the city’s home-brew street cleaning sign doesn’t even come close.

And with street cleaning signs posted only twice a block, it’s highly unlikely most out-of-town visitors will be able to make sense of them unless they park their cars and then walk to the end of the block to read the sign from the sidewalk.

Here’s a concept for what a street cleaning sign that followed the federal standards might look like.

A separate, but similar, sign could be developed for snow emergency restrictions.

If the signs were more readable, there’d be less need to spend more money and clutter the parkways with additional copies of the hard-to-read ones.

City staff promised Monday night to come back with a revised plan for street-sweeping signs. One can only hope that they’ll address the readability issue as part of that plan.

Related story

City may buy more street cleaning signs (7/8/19)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Street Cleaning Signs

    Chicago has used these forever. The problem there is that they are put up at head height by not tall people, so if a van or truck parks near the tree, you don’t see it. And they’re put on 2 or 3 trees max, per block, and with the congestion (or at night) they are very easy to miss. I always considered my $100 checks a donation to Daley’s retirement fund. 

    1. Street Cleaning Signs

      I’ve been a resident for almost 50 years and great grandparents before me. I remember the previous signs being the same size and less noticeable without the current reflectivity. More signs or less signs, most people still don’t follow.

  2. The street I live on in south

    The street I live on in south Evanston is two blocks long, (1000ft according to Google Maps.) There is one sign at each corner. Standing in the middle of our block, you would need a telescope to read the sign. There were previously four signs on our block, but two were removed. When I asked the city why, I was told that the signs were too expensive. They usually write 5-8 tickets every street sweeping day. At $75 a pop, I think they could use that money to buy the requried signage. The point is that the city would rather use street sweeping as a source of revenue than as a service to its residents.

  3. parking signs

    I have lived in Evanston since 1987.  For over 25 years I lived on either Forest or Hinman in South Evanston.  I noticed that when I lived on the 800 block of Hinman almost no one noticed the street cleaning signs.  So, the signs were effective in generating revenue, but  less so in regulating parking.  I just received my second parking ticket since 1987.  Although I read the sign on one block regarding no parking 9 to 1, I parked on the next block where the regulation was no parking 12 to 4.  I assumed that the regulation would also be 9 to 1 since many cars were parked on the block (Maple) after 1 pm.  The signs that are used in Chicago are more effective in regulating parking if that is the objective.

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