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home : columns : columns June 29, 2017

5/3/2017 2:32:00 PM
The Traffic Guy hears ...
… that, while some folks were busy cleaning up the planet so Mother Earth could breathe a bit better, others joined Chicago’s March for Science.Joan and Dick MacHarg, and Greg Williams contributed these photos via Martha Arntson.
… that, while some folks were busy cleaning up the planet so Mother Earth could breathe a bit better, others joined Chicago’s March for Science.
Joan and Dick MacHarg, and Greg Williams contributed these photos via Martha Arntson.

… that the City is piloting some restrictions on Greenwood/Ridge traffic that are similar to those now in place on Grove/Ridge traffic: Since yesterday (May 3) and continuing through the end of October, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., drivers on Greenwood must turn right onto Ridge. This applies to all drivers, eastbound and westbound, and those who would go north or south. The trial period will allow the City to evaluate whether these measures improve safety. Having drivers on Grove go with the flow on Ridge seems to be working.

… that City Council just created Divvy 4 Every Evanstonian (D4EE), a membership-subsidy program. The City clearly sees this as a public benefit rather than a money-generator, anticipating “$1,000 in membership revenue” and an “uncollected revenue cost potential of between $20,000 and $40,000, assuming that 200 community members register for the program in the first year.”

… that, speaking of Divvies,  a new Divvy Bike station with 10 bikes is coming to town, this one at Dempster and Chicago. The word from the City is that since Divvy came to Evanston in June of 2016, “City staff has secured and collected over $550,000 from a state grant and local advertising and sponsorship support for the Divvy program.” This year, the City anticipates another $125,000 in new station sponsorships and renewed advertising sponsorship funding, and possibly other moneys coming as public benefits in upcoming developments. Sounds like the sponsorships could offset a lot of D4EE expense.

… that the City is in the process of grading its 300 unpaved alleys. Those wishing to know when their alleys will be smoothed can check the City’s 2017 Alley Maintenance Map and Schedule at cityofevanston.org/alleymaintenance, or call/text 847-448-4311. And, after the back of the yards has been graded, folks can sign up to chip in their 50% to have their front sidewalks replaced. Residents and businesses can participate but everyone must sign up by the May 12 deadline at cityofevanston.org/sidewalk or call/text 847-448-4311. TG, sadly, believes that residents do not have a choice of colors for their sidewalks but wishes the City would consider that. What ETHS alum wouldn’t love to have a few blue and orange sidewalk squares?

… that April was National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, with April 24-28 being Illinois Distracted Driving Awareness Week. Evanston police officers were among the 300 law enforcement and fire agencies to work toward educating the public on the dangers of distracted driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):
• 3,477 people were killed and an estimated 391,000 injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2015. That is a 9% increase in fatalities compared to the previous year.
• Texting while driving has become an especially problematic trend among millennials. Young drivers, 16 to 24 years old, have been observed using handheld electronic devices while driving at higher rates than older drivers since 2007.

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: In analyzing 2009-2012 data, that even while more than 8 in 10 drivers believed it completely unacceptable for a motorist to text or e-mail behind the wheel, more than a third of those same respondents admitted to reading text messages while driving. Just as disturbing, even as fatalities go up, fewer drivers seem concerned about texting while driving. According to the Foundation’s 2015 Traffic Safety Culture Index, significantly fewer motorists (77%) believed texting while driving is a problem, down from 96 % in 2013, a 19-point drop in just two years.

While they’re at it, maybe the officers could also educate skateboarders and bicyclists on the dangers of boarding or biking while texting or phoning – either that, or help them enroll in stuntman training, since a lot of these people seem to think they are invulnerable.

… that Jennie Atkins, Water and Atmospheric Resources Monitoring Program manager at the University of Illinois’ Illinois State Water Survey, reports that soil temperatures are higher than normal this spring – because the air temperatures have been high as well. Soil temperatures rose steadily over the first half of April, increasing 11.5 degrees during the first 15 days. At depths of 4 inches under sod, temperatures averaged 54.9 degrees for the period, 4.4 degrees higher than the long-term average. 

The temperature of Lake Michigan last week was 55 at the Chicago shore and 50 at the Chicago crib, a few miles offshore.

From our readers: TG: I am a regular reader of your very informative column. The lead item in your April 6 column prompted me to write you. You informed your readers about the “disassembly of the crane at 1571 Maple Ave.” and the eventual reopening of Elmwood Avenue.
I live in the building adjacent to the construction site and have an unpleasant bird’s-eye view of the proceedings. Elmwood Avenue has been closed to pedestrian and vehicle traffic since last summer. Our building was informed that the City had approved a request from the contractor/developer to close the street until Dec. 31, 2016. Obviously, when your street is shut down for months, it is a major inconvenience.
However, in November, we received a new notice that, due to miscalculation in planning, Elmwood would now be closed until May 31, 2017. Unbelievable. Sure, as we all know, contractors make mistakes in their estimates … several days, several weeks is quite common and even acceptable.
But what large construction company misses by five months – 151 days – something as key as shutting down a whole street? Was it a miscalculation or just plain misleading?
Developers and contractors may often feel the need to verbally promise or to indicate the most optimistic, most palatable scenario possible to please the customer or gain approval from municipal authorities.
My point is, the City should be more skeptical and challenge rosy pronouncements from developers. This is especially important during the approval process. There should also be repercussions for promises not kept as for miscalculation
or misstatements that cause expenses to the City or create inconveniences to the public.  – Ed Williams

From TG: You and your neighbors have waited a long time because of what might have been an egregious miscalculation. Was anything offered in mitigation?

TG: Thanks for your comment about the Upstairs Café in last week’s column! We the cafe owners agree that Union Pacific’s wizards in Omaha, Neb., are dreaming when they imagine big rent coming from our tiny space. We needed a good laugh as we prepare to close our beloved business. Thanks for providing one. – Gail Doeff
From TG: Losing the Upstairs Café is a loss for the entire community, not just your corner of north Evanston. TG wishes you and your partners well in a new location, if that is what you choose. Glad you liked the snark.

The Traffic Guy thinks …
… that it would be interesting to have an automobile or policy wonk analyze how much gasoline is wasted when folks try to parallel park – folks, that is, who do not have self-parking cars. Would angle-parking be more fuel-efficient? But then there is that problem about how to see around SUVs and other big cars when one is backing out into a street. Crews from A. Lamp will be making on-street repairs on Davis (from Ridge to Elmwood) until about mid-month, that is, May 19. Maybe they have some thoughts on the matter.



Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, May 8, 2017
Comment by: Shane Colton

Enjoyed your thoughts on the subject of parallel parking induced fuel usage. But why stop there? For years I've wondered how much fuel is wasted trying to get around one way street-riddled downtown Evanston. And while we're at it, I wonder how much fuel is wasted sitting in traffic on the newly bottlenecked Green Bay Road between McCormick and Ridge (as well as the now much busier ancillary routes)? Looks pretty, cost a fortune, takes forever to get anywhere.



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