… that practically the whole world of Evanston turned green for Earth Day. In addition to the celebrations and obser-vances, Mother Nature put on a dazzling show of blossoming daffodils, tulips, squills, and star and butterfly magnolias. Chicago springs evoke Ray Bradbury’s “All Summer in a Day” – long-awaited but ephemeral.

… that the police department recently inaugurated its T-3, a three-wheel vehicle which, according to the EPD, represents “the next progression in law-enforcement mobility.” A T-3 is a front-wheel drive, clean-energy, zero-gas-emissions, personal electric three-wheel vehicle with a 0-degree turning radius. It costs less than a dime a day to operate, has a top speed of 20 mph and gets 25-30 miles per charge, if the battery (charge lasts for three to four hours) lasts. The T-3, says the EPD, is “appropriate for deployment on streets, alleys, parks, paths and sidewalks.” Here’s a pic of a T-3. The family of David Cherry donated money to the City last year to purchase one of these.

… that, speaking of electricity and driving, a recent article in Scientific American (Dec. 2008) reported that electric fields can boost a car’s gas mileage by up to 20 percent, since they reduce the viscosity of a liquid. The short article, by Charles Q. Choi, said that “reduced fuel viscosity means that much smaller droplets can be injected into the engine, leading to more efficient combustion. Investigators at Temple University thinned fuel by attaching an electrically charged tube to a diesel engine’s fuel line near the fuel injectors.” In a road test, the highway fuel economy increased from 32 mpg to 38 mpg. Mr. Choi concludes, “The researchers, who describe the boost in the Nov. 19 Energy & Fuels, expect the device will find use in all kinds of internal-combustion engines.”

… that restaurant folks are warming up to the idea of summer, applying for sidewalk café permits. Here are some on the way: Zoba the Noodle Bar, 1565 Sherman Ave.; Bennison’s Bakery, 1000 Davis; and Cozy Noodles & Rice, 1018 Davis.

… that a couple more Subway restaurants may come to Evanston: one at 3330 Central and the other at 1133 Emerson. And a convenience store of about 1,500 square feet may open at 1615 Sherman Ave.

… that the Chicago Avenue Jewel/Osco plans interior renovations. Speaking of grocery store renovations, the Dominick’s at Dempster/Dodge (in the RT neighborhood) has been spiffed up. And speaking just of grocery stores, the Site Plan and Appearance Review Committee has given its final approval for the Aldi coming to 2201 Oakton.

… that some commercial enterprises are requesting permission from the City to alter their signage, presumably to attract patrons and customers: Skyline of Evanston, 415 Howard, wants to improve marketing and attract more renters; the Chicago Avenue Jewel wants to have a higher and bigger sign. According to the SPARC minutes of a recent meeting, the committee “noted that the proposed sign plan will improve the aesthetics of the storefront façade.” Farther north, the four shops at the strip shopping center at 2510 Gross Point Road have come up with signage for their group.

… that Medill students and faculty (NU’s J School) held a rally last week for Medill alumna Roxana Saberi and calling for her immediate release. She was convicted in Iran of espionage earlier this month and sentenced to eight years in prison. She’s lived and worked as a journalist in Iran for the past six years, reporting for (Medill reports) National Public Radio,
the BBC and other news outlets.

… that the folks of Save the Manatee Club are suggesting that children adopt a manatee for their mothers for Mother’s Day.

From our readers:

TG: Recently I was invited to Oakton School, where two of my children are students. My kindergarten daughter had been chosen as a student-of-the-month. The families of the recipients of this award were invited to the school to participate in a ceremony honoring the children at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, April 3. Oakton School has one small parking lot big enough for the staff and maybe a handful of visitors (depending on the day and time). As a result, parents were forced to park on a side street that is the south perimeter of the school, on Austin Street. While we were celebrating and honoring our Evanston students, the City of Evanston was issuing $30 tickets to all the families that visited the school that day.
I realize that the Oakton school principal probably should have alerted the City in advance that he was hosting such an event. Apparently, he forgot. However, rather than spending a half-hour writing tickets to the unusually large presence of cars on a street bordering an elementary school mid-day, could not the parking enforcer have made a simple phone call or inquiry?

Unbelievable! Shame on the City of Evanston. 

                          – Jean-Marie Freise

From TG: Again the City’s harsh parking regulations and enforcement policies continue in their path of massive public irritation. TG has often opined that more reasonable parking here would generate more good will and possibly enough revenue in sales and other taxes to make up for whatever losses the City would incur from issuing fewer parking tickets. TG recalls that one of the candidates for mayor had some great ideas about changing parking in downtown Evanston.

TG: I think that there should be a campaign to make it easier to find your way around Evanston. I mean, have you ever tried to tell someone how to find your house in the evening when the trees have leaves and it is dark or – heaven forbid – raining? It is almost impossible to see the street signs – if you can find them. True, most street corners have one sign alerting you, for example, that you are on the corner of, say, Michigan and Kedzie but if you find it, it probably will be so dark you can’t read it. And by that time the person behind you will be honking. Even we, who have lived in Evanston for almost 40 years, still find it hard to find places in other parts of town where we don’t go frequently. So how do we tell our friends from Morton Grove how to get here if there is no way to read the street signs?

There must be some way to make sure that the signs are lit at night. To begin with, the signs themselves should be much larger and in a better location, so that they are easier to find and to read anytime, in the rain or even a clear day. Isn’t there some sort of light-catching material that can illumine the signs even at midnight? (If the trees are not in the way). Or take a watt or two from the street lamp – which
is almost useless – to shine on the sign.
I know, I know it costs money. I know. I know we have a lot of things that are more important, but getting around in Evanston, sometimes even in the day, when you do not know the street’s name, is difficult.
And while I am at it, the street lights have been placed to be lovely to look at but are not at all helpful in finding the corner in the first place.

So Traffic Guy, I suggest you take a trip some evening in the rain (or not) trying to find a place you are not familiar with and see what we are up against.

Even if you know Evanston like the back of your hand, try it from an outsider’s look. (I think most towns could benefit from better street signs.)

So, how about a couple dollars a year on the Evanston car sticker to start the project, a contest in the high school for creative design and innovative thinking and tree trimmers for all around the lights and signs, especially at corners.
Hoping to find my way in Evanston,

– Gretchen Leppke

From TG: There is really not much
to add, Ms. Leppke. Aesthetics and practicality are almost always at odds. Maybe it’s time to move the signs lower. What do folks think of the pillars in Park Ridge, with street names posted on them? These are not at eye-level, but tree branches would not block them.

The Traffic Guy thinks …

… that if we ever get the money to implement the multi-modal transportation plan, the City could be much better off in terms of greenhouse-gas emissions, pedestrian- and bike-friendliness and general all-round well-being. Kudos to the City’s Department of Transportation (EDOT) and others for all their hard work.

…that it would be nice to have a name for an aggregate of our residents: a gaggle of geese, a dazzle of zebras, a murder of crows … a what of Evanstonians?

Send your suggestions, thoughts and comments to us at info@evanstonroundtable.com. We are here to listen.