Evanston aldermen Monday failed to agree on plans for a pilot project  to create a bike corral downtown.

An image of a bike corral in Long Beach, Calif., included in a report from Evanston’s Environment Board.

Evanston aldermen Monday failed to agree on plans for a pilot project  to create a bike corral downtown.

City staff proposed, as a discussion item at the Administration and Public Works Committee, setting up a corral on Benson Avenue just outside the entrance to the Evanston Athletic Club at 1723 Benson Ave.

The corral would occupy the curbside space now taken up by two parked cars and would provide storage for 12 to 14 bikes.

Public Works Director Suzette Robinson said that the two spaces now generate about $6,000 in parking meter revenue, but she predicted that revenue would still be earned by the city, with drivers just shifting to other on-street spaces or the downtown garages.

Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, suggested the Athletic Club should be asked to pick up the cost of the lost meter revenue, since many of the bike riders in the area are patrons of the club.

As an alternative, she suggested putting the corral instead in what she said was a no parking area further down the block by the Second Baptist Church at 1717 Benson Ave.

But Robinson said that space was needed for clearance for trucks emerging from the alley and Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, said it would interfere with funeral hearses and other special parking needs for the church.

Holmes said bike riders are ignoring signs on parking meters urging them to park bikes in racks at the opposite end of the block and suggested police should ticket people who chain bikes to the meters.

Robinson said enforcement of such a rule would be very difficult. “The only way we can do that is to cut the lock and take the bike,” something that. she said, would prove highly unpopular.

Alderman Jaine Grover, 7th Ward, said people who ride bikes are just like car drivers — they want to park very close to their destination.

She favored the test and said, “if the project doesn’t work, we can always restore the parking spaces.”

Rickey Voss, who heads the city’s parking division, said a new parking meter system, which could eliminate the individual meter posts cyclists now chain their bikes to, is likely to be in place sometime later this year.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, suggested the city staff should take another look at the block and come back with a revised plan.

The bike corral concept has been under discussion at least since last summer, and has won support from the city’s Environment Board.

Related story

Bike corral plan runs into revenue fears

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Bike Corrals are a great idea!

    Bike Corrals are a great idea and it's time to try them out as a community… and while we are at it , how about a few more "outside the box" ways to reduce driving and encourage healthy and carbon free transportation around town!

    The following are my comments – cut & pasted from last summer's discussion:

    Did anyone study how much more revenue might be created with bike friendly shopping revenues of people who don't want to drive and park downtown and bonus, lower health care costs for those benefiting from regular exercise?

    It would be a shame if the City "Fathers" (and Mothers) can't take a chance and put some money where our mouths are… by lowering communitywide carbon – one gallon of gasoline burned = nearly 20 lbs of CO-2.  Besides, one lawsuit from someone tripping over a hastily parked (or worse, "dumped") bike on the sidewalk could exceed that amount by multiples.

    Let's stretch the envelope and put that one in and while we are at it, support our local bike shops by adding the same in front of their stores… It's time to be socially responsible (and smart)!

    Or we can take that $6000 and just give it away to developers and any other needy groups (or individuals) that ask.

    Respectfully submitted, Brian G. Becharas

  2. As Brian mentioned, this is

    As Brian mentioned, this is an excellent, creative solution to reducing the blight of auto traffic downtown while encouraging environmentally preferable transportation options.

    It is embarrassing that a city so often recognized for its leadership in sustainability would ask bicyclists who create no economic, social or environmental negative to be placed second to the often single-occupancy vehicles allowed to park directly outside of a health club!

    The fact that this issue has not been resolved shows the true power of the strongest special interest group in Evanston: those baby boomers who have nothing better to do but whine about the lack of parking. But still they choose the quality of life of dense, urban Evanston over the sprawling, auto-oriented Schaumburg.

    The economic, social and evironmental benefits of bicycling are known. So are the benefits of reduced auto traffic in the downtown core. The blight of auto traffic far outweighs that of any crowded sidewalk. Or would the Council and City staff not want the streets of Evanston filled with people shopping, visiting restaurants and paying taxes?

    This is a wise investment in economic development and our collective goal of environmental sustainability that the City must make.

  3. The idea of bike corrals is a

    The idea of bike corrals is a good one. Instead of putting one in the street on Benson, there is more than enough room on the sidewalk at the SW corner of Benson and Clark, just steps away . If people are going to continue locking their bikes up to poles, it really doesn't matter where the corrals are placed anyway. Just an idea… 

  4. Bike corral by EAC + can Evanston spare 2 parking spaces?

    This failure to even approve one measly bike corral is a shocking failure to demonstrate  any vision whatsoever  for sustainablity here in Evanston. It's beyond  disappointing that the city council members can't give up two parking spaces to serve bicyclists. On the other hand, they somehow managed to waste no time in making  cyclists' lives more difficult with the abominable signage attached to the meters outside EAC.  A bike corral outside EAC should be a great big non-issue. Give me a break!!!

    Furthermore, instead of advocating that the Evanston Athletic Club, (or any other entity) subsidize lost parking revenue, the city could offset the bike corral (s?) with increased parking charges for cars.  That way there'd be incentives  to  reduce driving, and the true cost of parking would eventually be reflected in the real costs. And that's just one idea. The city can make up the revenue in all kinds of ways.To advocate that a business that serves many bicyclists make up for lost parking revenue, is, in effect, penalizing that business for having customers who make sustainable choices.  Given the City Council's failure to support bicycle infrastructure, you'd think car drivers are the only business patrons who have money to spend in Evanston.

    As for the person who  gloated that parking meters would be going away, I hope he/she realizes that Chicago has left many of theirs for bicyclists' use, and that Evanston should do the same..


    1. Bike corrals increase parking opportunities

      It is wrong to talk about the city "sparing" parking spaces.  Bike corrals increase parking capacity. Right now the two spaces can hold 2 cars.  Given that federal data indicates that 80% of car trips in the US only include one passanger, as it stands now those spaces can only serve 2 Evanstonians.

      WIth a bike corral you INCREASE parking from accommodating 2 persons to accomodating 12 since they can provide parking for more bikes than cars.

      This project will also help encourage use of the garages by automobiles.  

      These garages average about 60% capacity and ARE EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE to maintain.  In fact, at that same meeting where the committee nixed the bike corral, they approved a contract for $60,000 just for a study to look into maintainence issues at the Sherman Park garage!

      This is a garage which took in $1 million in revenue, but required $5.9 million in expenses last year!

      So, Burrus' "lost meter revenue" doesn't wash.  The parking garages are white elephants and money pits.  The more the city can encourage cheap transportation alternatives, the better for all taxpayers–regardless of whether you own a bike or not.

      As Nancy nicely points out, having EAC fund public infrastructure is ridiculous.  


  5. More bike corrals, please!

    I want to second Nancy Sreenan's idea and suggest that drivers ought to be given incentives to bike or walk, and this ought to go for many places downtown, not just the EAC. Make biking and walking safer and more pleasant by discouraging excessive car traffic and we will have a healthier and happier city.

  6. Risk of parking in the street ?

    I'm all for adding a lot more bike racks [EPL sure needs them]. Other spots CVS, B-K and I'm sure people can pointout more—for these two parking meters, trees and signs partly make-up for it.

    But I'd not park in the corrals or anything in the street.  It is bad enough when drivers hit/scrape other cars and worse.  It is pretty clear from the number of cars at City Hall, that the administration does not promote biking or walking.  How many Council/administrators bike/walk to City Hall, other jobs, errands, etc.—or even use CTA ?

    I hope they don't hire non-Evanston employees who would need Metra !

  7. C’mon Alderman Burrus

    I'm tired of Evanston talking about being "sustainable" and "green" and doing nothing about it.  People will just part at other meters on Benson. They almost never all fill up.  The lost revenue is a myth.  Please install the bike corrals already.

  8. Greener Evanston?

    We think that Evanston is working to be a greener city but then we won't make this small step to encourage bike traffic to downtown. Compared to a lot of other things that should be done to make our city more bike friendly this bike corral is easy.

    I also agree that the parking revenue would not really be lost because the cars will just find another place to park.

  9. In support of on-street bicycle parking

    Bike Corrals are an excellent way of providing parking for 12 shoppers in the space previously used for only two! The zero carbon footprint of those 12 shoppers is an additional value to some people. Alderman Grover's comment was spot on, "Cyclists wish to park very close to their destinations, as do drivers." Therefore, let's get the chamber of commerce involved and determine the best locations…

    • In front of Turin, serving the Davis Street shops?
    • In front of The Pony Shop, serving the Chicago Avenue shops (including the 2013 Trader Joe's)?
    • In front of Whole Foods, where off-street parking for cars is already available?

    I believe that a critical mass of bicycle parking is necessary to encourage cyclists.

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