Evanston has been awarded a $1.49 million grant to build bike paths along Sheridan Road and Chicago Avenue connecting the Northwestern University campus to downtown.

The grant of federal funds through the state department of transportation was announced over the weekend by Gov. Pat Quinn as part of a package of 71 grants for a total of $52.7 million in projects across the state.

The state had received 232 applications from Illinois communities for the transportation enhancement program funds.

The City Council approved the application for the grant last August. It will require the city to provide a 20 percent local funding match for the project.

As described then by Public Works Director Suzette Robinson, the project will replace the existing 12-foot wide sidewalk on the east side of Sheridan Road between Chicago Avenue and Lincoln Street with an eight-foot wide sidewalk and an eight-foot wide two-way off-street bike path in the parkway.

Robinson said the new design would separate bikes from pedestrians to minimize conflicts while also providing an alternative route for cyclists who now ride in the street.

The city hopes to extend that path on the section of Sheridan Road between Chicago Avenue and South Campus Drive as part of another project.

Chicago Avenue looking south from Sheridan Road, where the parking lane on the right will become a bike path. (Google maps image).

The second part of the newly-funded project would create a two-way, on-street bike path in the west parking lane of Chicago Avenue from Sheridan Road to Church Street. An extension to Davis Street will be paid for by tax increment financing district funds.

The Chicago Avenue project, Robinson says, will eliminate 36 metered and 16 non-metered parking spaces, but the city could regain about half the lost meter parking revenue by adding meters to now un-metered spaces on the east side of the street between Sheridan Road and Clark Street.

Update 4:55 p.m.: In a news release late this afternoon, city officials said they’re considering two different configurations for the Sheridan Road section.

One would reduce Sheridan from four to three lanes of auto traffic with a protected bike lane in the roadway. The other would be the plan Robinson described last fall — leaving the road at four lanes and putting the bike path on the parkway.

Consultants and city staff will design the project later this year. The Chicago Avenue segment is scheduled to be built in spring 2015 and the Sheridan Road segment in summer 2015.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. I can’t see this working.

    Students walking take up the whole sidewalk [in mass or four+ together and won't yield to those going the same or opposite direction] as it is and with them being connected to the 'matrix' [cell, texting, music] they never know or care who else is on the walk.  Yes bikes also use it but it is like an obstacle course as it is—whether the bike is moving slow or racing. 

    What will students do during construction? This seems poorly thought out and doomed to be a boondoggle.

    1. Bike Lane as Drop Off Lane

      Many NU students, buses, cabs, and other drivers currently use the righthand northbound lane of Sheridan as a passenger drop off/pick up location, which can be unnerving to other motorists and cyclists during rush hour traffic. I can't envision many of them respecting the bike lanes that will take the place of their improvised "pull off" space, especially cab drivers unfamiliar with Evanston/NU who bring visitors directly from O'Hare. 

      I'm glad cyclists are being given some of the road versus NU making it into a drop-off lane that would facilitate the movement of northbound cars and buses, but I don't think enough consideration has been given to how to prevent motorists from suddenly pulling off to drop off/pick up and blocking the bike lanes. 

      Also consider that one the NU bus student bus service stops is on the west side of Chicago Avenue where it splits from Sheridan and where the other bike lanes will go. Students usually wait on the parkway, but under the new configuration, they will need to cross the bike lane to board the bus.

  2. Bike Lanes

    I am a working mother who lives in Evanston and is having a lot of trouble parking and driving in downtown Evanston due to the bike lanes.  I don't have the luxury of shopping in the middle of the day when traffic is lightest and downtown Evanston, at least after work, has become an obstacle course.

      In the past few months I have seen people park their cars inside the bike lane, or park so far away from the bike lane that their vehicle obstructs traffic.  I have seen a car door open up into the bike lane, narrowly hitting a cyclist, who then narrowly hit a pedestrian when he had to quickly swerve onto the sidewalk.  I have seen a near car accident on the corner of Davis and Ridge because a vehicle has to turn in front of a parked car to clear both the parking and the bike path to make a turn.  And last but not least, more often than not, I see cyclists riding on the sidewalks next to the bike lane (perhaps because they are, understandably, afraid of those car doors).  

    Beyond the obvious safety implications, this has to affect our economy as well–I have avoided one of my favorite local businesses, Accents Plus, because it is located right in the middle of a parking and driving mess.  When I leave the Whole Foods and drive past those gorgeous dresses in the Accents Plus window, I keep on driving because I don't want the hassle of turning down Davis St. and dealing with multiple lanes of traffic, a bike lane, and an active alley where cars are turning into the street– across the bike lane.

    Can we please have an outside consultation regarding our downtown shopping district?  Surely there must be a safer way to design our downtown.  Let's have some outside civil engineers come in and give us an assessment/some suggestions.  And I strongly encourage the Chamber of Commerce to weigh in as well.  I want to shop locally, but the city seems to be working against me.  

    1. Sounds like the problem is the cars

      Every instance you brought up seemed to be a problem with drivers, not bikes: a car illegally parked, a driver opening their door without regard to their surroundings, a car driving recklessly around a corner, bikes riding on the sidewalk because of reckless drivers, etc…

      Bikers have every right to a safe street as any car.  In fact because of the lower impact on congestion, infrastructrue, etc… it makes sense to try and accommodate cycling from the standpoint of reducing costs to the taxpayer.  

      As far as your issue with parking goes, it seems unwarranted.  Every business in downtown Evanston is located within 200 meters of a parking garage.  These garages were erected with great expense.  All taxpayers are servicing the bonds used to pay for building the parking garages.  The ones in TIF districts have deprived our schools of tax money to support cars.  The operation of every parking garage runs in the red. And, to top it off, the city's own studies have shown that they are never close to capacity.  They are also free  for the first hour.

      In these times of fiscal austerity, it makes great sense to expand the bike infrastructure. 

      1. Streets are for cars, sidewalks are for people
        Evanston needs to pass a law confining the riding of bikes to side streets only. Since most of our side streets are contiguous north/south and east/west (no cul de sacs), getting around would not be a problem. Bike riding in the central downtown area (Emerson to Lake and Ridge to Chicago Aves.) Should require the WALKING of the bike with a hefty $100 fine for riding a bike in this area (the bike would be confined by the city until the fine was paid.) Problem solved!

      2. bikes are ok, but.

        Boy do I disagree with this assessment.  Cost and impact of bike lanes, when analyized to actual per user rates, is the most underutilized infrastructure installed.

        Until the last couple weeks I don't think I have seen a single bike rider for the last 4 months using all that new bike lane infrastructure.  How does zero riders reduce cost to taxpayers.

        While I agree with your assessment that downtown now has adequate parking, I disagree with your insinuation that those garages were a poor investment, that bike lanes are a better use of resources.  The very idea that TIF funds to improve the business district deprives money to schools, well thats a complete canard of an argument. 

        The school districts themselves have publically stated how tif's have helped save their budgets.  Tif districts, and those parking garages, support expanded residential development, expanded retail business development, keeps office tenants downtown, etc etc etc.  All those uses pay many millions of dollars to the school districts. And those improvements in assessed valuations have, and will continue to increase, dollars going to the school districts.  Thats a simple verifiable fact.

        And as the example the poster you responded to stated, bike lanes can discourage use and therefore depress city/school cash flows.  And the increase in bike riders is so small, so immediatley local, there is no proven valid argument for them as an economic engine.  The very few "studies" claiming otherwise are easily discredited. 

        Expanding bike infrastructure is fine, good for bike riders, good for local residents quality of life, but its time to end the overstatement of their value and admit to their shortcomings.  Even avid cyclist openly critisize their value in improving cyclist safety.    

      3. This isn’t cowboys vs. farmers

        I agree that bikes have a place in downtown Evanston, as do cars.  I think you misunderstand my point.  I am not asking for the city to eliminate bike lanes, I am asking the city to evaluate the current design.  I understand that there are garages in downtown Evanston, I am remarking on the difficulty of navigating some streets en route to the garages.  I don't think this has to be a cars vs. bikes issue, but that seems to be the response given to anyone who criticizes any aspect of cycling.  There is a problem that needs to be addressed and it is not the fault of drivers…or riders.  I am merely asking that the city address the problem; the same way they address traffic flow anywhere else in the city. 

      4. Bike lanes on Sheridan

        The idea of putting bike lanes on the sidewalks along Sheridan makes no sense. I agree with the writer who says that the walking students will not stay off the bike lanes on the sidewalks. The writer is absolutely correct.

        I walk that street every day and witness the bunches of students going and coming to class. Putting the bike lanes in the street makes no sense either. The writer who talks about how so many people use the right hand lane as a drop off place and stops for the NU bus is correct.

        As a cyclist, I use Orrington Avenue, in the street. Orrington is a pleasure to ride on.

        Students will continue to ride on the Sheridan sidewalk. We citizens, when going north or south to downtown or the lakefront, can use Orrington.

        The proposed plan makes no sense. The state can use all ;that money somewhere else.

Leave a comment
The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *