Evanston’s Transportation and Parking Committee Wednesday night approved a pilot program to see whether signs that remind motorists and cyclists about bicycle hand signals can reduce car-bike collisions in the city.
The project, developed by students in the Design for America program at Northwestern University, would add four to six of the signs to existing signposts near intersections around town and then try to measure whether they increased usage of the hand signals and whether that had any impact on the number of accidents.
Charles Tokowitz, one of the students who developed the project said there were 78 accidents involving bicycles last year, and many of them occur at intersections, often because cyclists and drivers weren’t aware of each others intentions.
The proposed design for the bike hand signal signs.
Tokowitz says surveys by the student group indicate that only about 30 percent of cyclists know about the hand signals — but, of those who do know them, two-thirds use them. And, he added, motorists who rarely cycle are even less likely to know what the signals mean.
Alderman Mark Tendam suggested that knowledge of the hand signals may be age-related — because older drivers may remember when motorists were expected to use the same signals if their car didn’t have functioning turn signals. And Parking Director Rickey Voss suggested motorcyclists may be more knowledgeable about the signals than most drivers — because motorcycles still are not legally required to have turn signals.
In approving the project the committee did make one change — saying the label for the “hand down” gesture should be changed from “Slow” to “Stop” — which matches the meaning ascribed to it in the Secretary of State’s Bicycle Rules of the Road booklet.
In other business, the committee:
- Voted to add four on-street meter parking spaces on the west side of Ewing Avenue south of Central Street to respond to increased demand for parking created by new businesses in the area.
- Discussed how to develop standards for locating on-street bike corrals around town — in response to a new request for one at Bucephelus Bikes at 1439 Lake St.
- Approved staff proposals for developing final terms for operating agreements for the Divvy Bike share program.
- Approved staff recommendations for locations for 10 planned Divvy bike share locations in the city.
- Approved a new program for deciding where to place bike racks in Evanston.