Evanston’s plan to add protected bike lanes to two more streets won’t be affected by the state transportation department’s skepticism about the safety of the lanes.

The Illinois Department of Transportation has decided to bar creation of protected bike lanes on roads under its jurisdiction while it gathers more data to determine whether the lanes are safe.

That decision has stalled several protected bike lane projects in Chicago because they involve roads that are, at least in part, under state jurisdiction.

But the proposed bike lane projects in Evanston — on Davis Street and Dodge Avenue — both involve roadways that are under city control.

Public Works Director Suzette Robinson says that means those two bike lane projects can move forward.

Bike lane advocates say that rather than waiting to gather its own data, IDOT should rely on studies from other communities that have had protected bike lanes longer than Illinois, which the advocates say show substantial reductions in accidents where the lanes have been created.

Evanston last year created a protected bike lane on Church Street from Dodge Avenue east to downtown. The Davis Street project has already been funded for construction this year and the city has recently applied for grant funding for the Dodge Avenue project.

But Robinson says the halt to projects on roads under state jurisdiction will bar the city from extending the Church Street protected bike lane west to the city limits.

It would also block creation of such lanes on some other roads, including Dempster and Central streets.

Robinson says the new bike lanes on city streets will let the city provide traffic accident data to IDOT that should help determine whether the state will lift the ban on protected bike lanes on roads it controls.

It’s believed the state may review its decision on the protected bike lanes by 2014.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Safer than riding in traffic

    The only problems with protected bike lanes are the large number of idiots that (1) think the bike lane is freely available for parking delivery vehicles, (2) think the bike lane is an extended sidewalk, (3) ride the wrong direction in the bike lane, and (4) wouldn't unload their kids into traffic but don't think twice about letting kids jump out of a car into a bike lane. 

    If we are going to support bike commuters we need to (1) enforce traffic laws against blockage of and hinderance to the bike lanes and equally (2) provide laws on the useage of the lanes (so there is a legal basis for suits for fault). 

  2. Bike lane markers fading quickly

    The green painted area at Church and Orrington is both fadding and being worn away already and it has only been there maybe five months.

    Between cars and trucks parked on the south side of Church from Orrington to Chicago Ave., the 'bike lane' is so in name only.  The same types of violations occurred on Davis from the CTA through Metra tracks and there buses made the situation even worse.

    Like so many things in Evanston, laws are made but never inforced and so residents realize the laws are a joke and ignore them.  The mayor and police chief said stencils about bike riding would be applied and officers would ticket bike riders on prohibited walks.

    While doing so would be like shooting fish in a barrel, I've only seen them out three times for one hour each.  The mayor said Northwestern instructs students about the no biking areas, but given the number of what certainly appear to be NU students, either the mayor or NU administrations are lying or NU students can't read or they have learned like other residents that the laws won't be enforced.



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