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January 16, 2018

1/10/2018 2:58:00 PM
The Traffic Guy hears ...
These two cars are parked so close to each other they block access to the carriage walk. RoundTable photo
These two cars are parked so close to each other they block access to the carriage walk.
RoundTable photo

… that on Jan. 4 tree czar Paul D’Agostino said the City had received no reports – “at least not yet” – of damage to trees caused by the recent Arctic-like freeze.  

… that, speaking of cold weather, here’s a pic of partially frozen Lake Michigan, taken on Dec. 28 from about 10,000 feet in the air and a few thousand feet from the Loop.

… that folks should be getting inured to the new parking rates and times: $1 per hour, 8 a.m.-9 p.m. in all business districts. It’s important to remember that these rates are in effect regardless of what’s on the meter itself, as some have not been updated yet.

... that the Evanston Police Department participated in the statewide Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign, making arrests and issuing violations, to wit: 17 seat belt citations; 1 child car-seat citation; 1 DUI arrest; 21 driving while distracted/cellular phone violations; 43 speeding citations; 3 “no proof of insurance” citations; and 25 other miscellaneous citations.

... that an off-duty City worker, Paul Crescenzo, took this photo and some spectacular videos of a bald eagle hunting and soaring near Oakton School last week.

… that late last month, the City offered an update of efforts to “address an increase in traffic crashes and traffic related citizen complaints along Ridge Avenue from Greenleaf Street to Davis Street.” The City reports that when the initiative – a combination of education and enforcement efforts – began last year, there had been 20 crashes at the intersection of Ridge and Greenleaf – up from eight in 2016. There were 21 crashes at that intersection in 2017, and 22 just a few blocks north – at Ridge and Lake – in 2017. Working with Don Wilson, alderman of the ward where this mess lies, City staff are considering (“researching” is the City’s term) some additional avenues: reducing the speed limit on Ridge, synchronizing the traffic signals, using speed cameras, and adding mast-arm traffic signals at intersections.
Ald. Wilson said he hopes that “drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians in Evanston will take a moment to be more thoughtful about how they use the roadways, that they resolve to comply with the laws and that they think about how they can improve the way they navigate the roads to safely get from point A to point B.”

TG would add: Slow down and look around. It’s courtesy, not rocket science. And check out Debbie Hillman’s suggestion on zebra crossings.

From our readers: We have the best readers. They have the best words.

TG: You should know that there is indeed a crosswalk on Dodge between Main and Oakton. It’s just about halfway between the two major thoroughfares, conveniently located near a mailbox on the east side of Dodge (at either Madison or Monroe.)
Obviously, if TG does not believe there is one, it could be a lot more obvious – perhaps with blinking lights and a post in the center of the street. (Often, when I’m crossing there with my dog, the drivers don’t seem to think there’s one there
either.)  – Thanks, Gail Siegel

From TG: TG drives that section of Dodge often and has been oblivious to this crosswalk – like many other drivers, as you indicate, Ms. Siegel. Thanks for pointing it out.

TG: About the cost of Sheridan Road improvements: The 1.9 mile stretch of road running parallel to Northwestern University cost $13.3 million. I understand that this mainly benefited NU by giving it a bike lane along Sheridan Road. However, most of cost for improvements was paid for by the City and the State of Illinois. Northwestern contributed $500,000 out of its “’Good Neighbor Fund.”  
Northwestern has one of the largest endowments of any university in the country. For NU to pay $500,000 for something that benefits its students far more than the people of Evanston isn’t very “Good Neighborly,” especially when the State is having financial difficulties and Evanston is making cuts to its budgets. – Jim Signorelli

From TG: Thank you, Mr. Signorelli. Maybe one of these days the City Council will wake up to how much damage is being done to the City’s infrastructure by all this construction – not only NU’s but by other private developers.

TG: Here are some traffic suggestions, per your year-end request: Paint more zebra crosswalks in every ward, at difficult intersections identified by residents and City officials. Start at Ridge and Lake and go in all four directions. Zebra crosswalks are a proven and relatively inexpensive method of traffic safety. Over the last 20 years, as the State of Illinois and local governments have been enforcing and educating drivers about pedestrians’ right to the streets, more and more Illinois drivers (including Evanston drivers) are slowing down for crossing pedestrians, especially at painted zebra crosswalks.
Even when pedestrians are not present, the zebra crosswalks serve as a traffic-slowing device (without the need for a Stop sign or stoplight or other permanent infrastructure).  
On a street like Ridge Avenue, where traffic tends to be over-fast and where numerous crashes have taken place in recent years, I think zebra crosswalks are worth a try. City staff and the community have been forced to spend much time looking for the right solution to this spate of crashes and none has been found yet.  But zebra crosswalks have not been tried yet (so far as I know).
A Citywide public outreach campaign can be easily organized, ward by ward, to identify the 5 to 10 or more intersections in each ward that would benefit from zebra crosswalks. I think this could be an effective use of each alderman’s ward meeting time (and might encourage aldermen who don’t hold regular ward meetings to have a practical discussion, with real results).  
Final decisions should take into account the following things: a public vote, City data on each proposed intersection, cost of painting zebra crosswalks at one intersection (one direction and both directions), economy of scale, the possibility of enlisting community volunteers to do the painting, supervised by City staff or a painting contractor. There are civic groups that might want to partner on this project. I can think of Go Evanston, Active Transportation Alliance, Participatory Budgeting Project-Chicago, and NU’s new Center for Diversity and Democracy.
Artists such as Jason Brown of Geocommunetrics are interested in street art of this type. If there is no City interest in this idea, do we have some local guerrilla artists who could paint some crosswalks at midnight?
Thanks. Happy holidays, Traffic Guy  – Debbie Hillman

From TG: Thanks, Ms. Hillman, for your thoughtful proposal for zebra crossings – those alternating light and dark stripes in a crosswalk. Boomers and other Beatles fans may recall the zebra crosswalk on the cover of the Abbey Road album.
The subtle crosswalk Ms. Siegel referred to in her letter (photo above, left) seems to be a feeble attempt at a zebra crossing. It’s barely visible to a driver trying to find it, so if that’s an Evanston zebra, it sure needs improvement.
TG advocated a few years ago for brightly colored/color-coded crosswalks: blue and orange in front of ETHS; school colors for District 65 schools; purple and white around NU. For crosswalks around the Morton Civic Center – and in homage to the former mayor for whom the building is named – perhaps crosswalks like train tracks. Many will recall Ms. Morton’s fondness for trains and train metaphors.   

The Traffic Guy thinks …
… that everyone should be careful when parking on residential streets to allow for access to the carriage walks – those walks that lead from the regular sidewalk to the street. Many residents clear them so they can manage the distance from the street to the sidewalk. This is especially true for those in wheelchairs, who use walkers, who have babes in strollers and for those who care for them.





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