Today was the first day a daytime ban on left turns at the intersection of Ridge Avenue and Grove Street in Evanston went into effect. And if a few minutes spent at the intersection this afternoon was any indication — a lot of drivers aren’t yet changing their old habits.

Even though big billboard signs have been up on Ridge, facing northbound traffic at Lake Street and southbound traffic at Davis Street warning of the impending change for weeks, you didn’t have to wait more than a minute or so at Grove today to seek somebody violate the new rules.

Cars turned left onto Ridge from Grove …and left onto Grove from Ridge. Over and over again.

… and turning left onto Grove from Ridge.

This reporter didn’t actually see anybody violate the third new restriction and go straight across Ridge on Grove.

Evanston Police Cmdr. Joseph Dugan says he’s not certain what the timetable will be for rolling out enforcement efforts at the intersection, but within the next few days motorists can expect to see police officers there — perhaps initially just issuing warning tickets — but then starting to hit violators with fines.

The city decided to test the new traffic restrictions from now through October to see if they will cut down on accidents at the intersection.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Unbelievable!
    As I was driving south on Ridge Wednesday morning, I saw GIGANTIC light signs with clear indication of no left turn on Grove. At the intersection, a “no left turn” was clearly visible. But in less than 20 seconds, three cars turned left. If Evanston is looking for additional revenue, they should have a police car waiting on Grove. The policemen will get blisters in their fingers from the many tickets they would write in a short period of time!

    1. The sign that prohibits left turns at Dempster

      The sign that prohibits left turns onto Dempster at Sherman has been there for at least a year, if not two now, but you'll still be given the finger for trying to point out that left turns are not allowed there. Unfortunately some people need to be incentivized to do simple things like read signs, follow directions and obey laws.

      1. They don’t even let you know if/where they will turn

        I think it is conservative to say 1/3 of drivers don't even signal that they will turn even in busy traffic.  Not even a left turn to/from a busy street like Sheridan around NU.  Then they get upset when people yell at them or other cars honk–after just missing an accident.  Illinois law requires a signal 140 feet before a turn—app. 1/2 length of football field.

        I see people turrning off of Garnett on to Ridge on a regular basis.   But there are many other places. 

      2. Speaking of Ridge Ave…
        I have seen a fair share of near crashes on Dempster, from the sudden stop of motorists trying to turn left. Evanston PD should be more vigilant, specially at rush hour. Another situation I have seen more -is it my imagination?- is more cyclists riding on Ridge. There is a good reason that is not allowed: it is very dangerous! Ridge Ave. lanes are narrow and traffic goes somewhat fast. It is hard to avoid collisions trying to avoid a cyclist! But they get mad when you point that out to them!

        1. traffic issues
          It would be nice..(maybe not practical???) if there were specifically trained traffic officers….not police taken away from actual crime issues……The tons of people seen talking on cell phones, not using turn signals, weaving, illegal turning, parking in handicapped spots,and double parking all over would bring in a LOT of extra revenue…and perhaps people would get the idea to follow rules & signs. They obviously wouldn’t need “regular” lengthy police training….just patrolling the downtown areas, and some major intersections and shopping areas.

          1. What personnel needed
            Several times a year the police have a traffic stop campaign. Despite the clear sign of the police, remarkably some motorists still get caught for cell phone, seat belts, etc..
            What is probably needed is people [police or others] sitting at corners or by streets, observing and recording plate numbers and car descriptions and then alerting a police car down the road—probably a walkie-talkie would be needed.
            Patrolling will not do it. The police need to sit at a site to monitor the violations. Given how motorists are it probably still will not modify their behaviior but maybe still fines will change them and their telling their friends might get the message out.
            I am a ‘bike only’ person but I’ve not seen a policeman stopping bikers on sidewalks in three years. The one time, in 1/2 hour they stopped four on Clark outside Burger-King. That or Sherman from Clark to Davis or Orrington from Clark to Davis [even in front of the hotel !] would be like shooting fish in a barrel. I suspect such watches at particular spots in Evanston would produce results for car violations also.

          2. street patrols
            I agree….sitting at corners would be good…and recording license plate numbers. Stiff fines should certainly do the trick. That goes for people talking on cell phones as well.

  2. New signs at Ridge & Grove
    About twenty years ago, the City foisted a similar solution onto the neighborhood of Dempster and Maple, where eastbound drivers chronically sped down the hill from Ridge and where numerous crashes had occurred in a short period of time.

    Neighbors of that intersection (including members of the Nichols Neighbors such as myself) suggested Stop signs. But City officials told neighbors that the City had no power to install Stop signs because Dempster was a State of Illinois road. The City’s solution was to try to prevent crossing Dempster on Maple — in either direction.

    This caused a domino effect of (1) chronic “blindness” to the signs, (2) bad decisions by drivers who were further circumscribed by nearby traffic obstacles (Oak St. dead end, no left turns on Ridge), and (3) more chaos than had existed before.

    Ultimately (after a few months, I believe), the City did what should have been done in the first place — install Stop signs. These stop signs are still in place today. Somehow, after the chaos of trying to micro-manage a single intersection, someone figured out a way to install the Stop signs.

    Today, in 2016, we have an additional tool that would calm traffic on Ridge and make Ridge-Grove into more of a “complete streets” intersection: zebra crosswalks and/or signs designating pedestrian right-of-way. As a point for discussion, I would recommend that the city consider painting zebra crosswalks at every Ridge intersection — on all four sides. I believe that this would slow all Ridge traffic, eliminate some if not all crashes, and better accommodate bicyclists, pedestrians, wheelchairs, shopping carts, etc. Evanston recently passed a Complete Streets ordinance. This is one opportunity to implement that ordinance — for the benefit of ALL modes of transportation.

  3. Hard to have faith

    I saw the same thing this last week, cars going every which way at all speeds despite the signs.

    Hard to have faith that these signs will amount to much, any more than the 20MPH Limit When Children Present that have been there for years.

    If the issue of lack of enforcement is resources of available officers to do so, I'd love to see even an empty police vehicle parked just around the corner on grove as an 'inspiration' to follow the laws and see these signs as more than just suggestions. 

    1. Needed: A stop light

      The only thing that will control traffic at that intersection is a stop light. Just like they have at Lake and Davis. But they have refused to do it… maybe this is the first step? But it's laughable because I see people turn left and go straight through all the time, even with the number of signs. Maybe we've reached the human limit of signs?

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