Evanston aldermen Monday night are expected to approve an ordinance reducing the speed limit on Chicago Avenue from Dempster Street to Sheridan Road from 30 to 25 miles per hour.

The change is being advocated by Alderman Judy Fiske, whose 1st Ward includes portions of the affected roadway. She’s asked that aldermen both introduce the measure and give it final approval Monday.

In August 2012 aldermen reduced the speed limit on Chicago Avenue between South Boulevard and Dempster Street from 30 to 25 miles per hour.

It appears that action was misinterpreted when it was incorporated into the city code. The code’s text now only authorizes 30 mile per hour travel on Chicago Avenue between Howard Street and South Boulevard.

The proposed action Monday would bring the city’s ordinances in line with what the city code already says.

The move would continue a trend to lower speed limits on major streets in Evanston.

Aldermen late last year reduced the speed limit on Dodge Avenue from 30 to 25 miles per hour.

Aldermen also voted last fall to reduce the speed limit on all of Sheridan Road to 25 miles per hour, but then learned that the stretch of Sheridan from the south city limit to South Boulevard was under state control and not subject to the city’s jurisdiction.

The amended language they approved, as submitted to the city code codifiers, reads that the Sheridan speed limit shall be 30 miles per hour from “City limits south to South Boulevard.”

(If you’re scratching your head about that, read it as from “the south city limits to South Boulevard,” rather than from “the city limits south to South Boulevard.”)

With the Sheridan Road reduction, only two north-south routes through Evanston remain with speed limits higher than 25 miles per hour —  Ridge Avenue and the combination of Asbury Avenue and Green Bay Road.

In 2012 aldermen reduced the limit to 25 on Oakton Street and a portion of Central Street.

That leaves several east-west streets — Howard, Main, Dempster, Church, Emerson and Central — with 30 mile per hour speed limits for portions of their length, but all those limits are reduced as the streets get closer to the lake.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify the status of Sheridan Road.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Do they want people to be able to get around town at all?
    Just asking… If there is any real evidence that Chicago Ave is unsafe at 30mph, I’m yet to see it.

    Really, what does 25mph vs 30mph accomplish? How can they expect people to want to shop in their precious downtown if it takes forever to get there? Don’t we buy enough from Amazon already?

    1. Speed and safety

      There is some fairly compelling evidence that a reduction in traffic speed has dramatic benefits for pedestrian safety.

      This report, from AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety, suggests that the risk of a serious injury to a pedestrian hit by a car roughly doubles — from 25 percent to 50 percent — when the speed of the vehicle increases from just under 25 miles per hour to just over 30 miles per hour.

      Similar differences are seek for pedestrian fatalities.

      — Bill

      1. Re: Speed and safety

        But was Chicago Ave engineered to be reasonably safe at 30mph? How many people get run over there now? Would the number of accidents go down dramatically at 25mph?

        1. Reasonably?

          Considering that Evanston’s streets were laid out in the era of the horse and buggy, one might conclude that they were “engineered” for safety at about 6 miles per hour.

          What level of safety do you consider reasonable?

          There are studies which show that the frequency of accidents increases with vehicle speed.

          So speed increases both the frequency and the severity of accidents.

          When I’m a pedestrian I may be more concerned about that then when I’m driving, since pedestrians are so much more vulnerable. How about you?

          — Bill

  2. Signs are confusing

    On at least one of the streets where the speed limit has changed there are signs for 30 mph and 25 mph near each other, sometimes right accross the street, or a block apart in the same direction.  What determines the actual enforceable speed limit?  The signs or the ordinance? 

    1. Speed
      No the City Council doesn’t care if you can get around Evanston by car easily. That should be apparent by the actions taken which ruined Dodge and Chicago avenues to favor bike lanes. But bicycles do pay high road and gas taxes….oh wait…that doesn’t sound right, does it? Well, maybe the cyclists will do the shopping and custom at the high end restaurants and establishments. In the meantime join the majority of Evanston drivers who head out of Evanston by the quickest route.

  3. Traffic congestion

    i for one think that pedestrian safety in Evanston begins with the pedestrians obeying the traffic signs and laws. Evanston needs to start thinking about traffic congestion or we all will be parking our cars outside of Evanston and having to walk home. It’s damn ridiculous we need some streets north and south to move the traffic faster than a turtles pace.

  4. accidents

    Are there any statistics on pedestrian/automobile accidents prior to all of these changes?  Maybe I’m wrong, but this seems like a solution in search of a problem.  It is getting very hard to get around town – there are backups everywhere.

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