Anyone who thinks that getting around Evanston is difficult should try to attend the unveiling of the City’s draft Multi-modal Transportation Plan (MMTP) from 6 to 8 p.m. on Feb. 17 in the Parasol Room of the Civic Center.

The Evanston Division of Transportation (EDOT), the, well, driving force behind the plan, has prepared a 244-page draft MMTP (dated Jan. 23), the purpose of which is “to shape long-range planning efforts for the future transportation system.”

The plan is intended to address “all transportation modes (alleys, bicycle, parking, pedestrian, transit and vehicle) in a manner that is representative of community values.”

EDOT began the monumental effort to develop the plan in early 2008, and collected extensive information about the City’s existing transportation system, gathering community input through public workshops, focus group meetings and a community survey.

The draft goals – there are about 50 of them – are general in nature and include the following:

• increasing alley paving in a cost-effective manner,

• improving the safety of bicyclists; improving the parking system;

• maintaining and expanding the City sidewalk system;

• improving the safety of pedestrians; supporting the needs of drivers through effective traffic management; and

• increasing access and ridership on mass transit.

The guts of the plan are in the many recommendations for the carrying out of those goals:

• increasing bicycle parking at transit stations and at other locations where parking is needed;

• piloting a bicycle boulevard; establishing a shared-bike program;

• improving downtown parking efficiencies by using variable pricing and other strategies;

• increasing commuter parking by relaxing parking restrictions in residential areas;

• upgrading sidewalk surfaces; establishing a multi-disciplinary committee to address school travel safety;

• continuing to maintain and improve roadway surfaces and bridges;

• implementing vehicle-crash-reduction strategies at ten intersections;

• providing amenities at three bus hubs and 23 bus centers;

• expanding the subsidized taxi program; and

• exploring the feasibility of implementing an Eco-Pass program that would provide Evanston residents with an unlimited transit card for buses within the City.

Some of the recommendations, such as supporting a car-sharing program and encouraging roadway construction in an environmentally sound manner, build on transportation strategies in the City’s Climate Action Plan.

So if you are tired of walking in the streets with a friend because the sidewalks are too narrow and bumpy; if you are frustrated by the cost and scarcity of downtown parking; if you are weary of driving but cannot find a safe way to ride your bike or an efficient way to take the bus to your destination, make your way to the workshop.

Listen, learn, contribute – and let us all applaud EDOT for this giant step toward a multi-modal transportation plan for the City.