A mellow bittern.

The Traffic Guy Hears…

…that TG erred in the last issue by saying “19 square miles” of sidewalk in Evanston need to be replaced. TG’s little brain was obviously lured by the “squares” in the sidewalk and transposed it to “miles.” The Multi-Modal Transportation Plan, at page 90 said only “19 miles” of sidewalk need to be replaced. You can check out the whole plan, which has some very thoughtful ideas and interesting tidbits about our infrastructure, on the City’s website, www.cityofevanston.org.

… that the clamor of jackhammers and the roar of steamrollers is paying off. We’re getting lots of new sidewalk and curbs.

… that the Twiggs Park path is pretty much completed, with a new, smooth surface and the dark-lighting streetlamps. The path is technically for bikes, but it is wide enough to accommodate pedestrians as well, says Paul D’Agostino, superintendent of Parks/Forestry for the City. He also said the “informal gravel path” that led to Simpson “has now been formally added in concrete. … We added some lights where the path was changed, and we repaired two lights that were broken.” The dark-lighting lamps direct the light down and slightly outward, rather than outward in all directions, thus increasing pedestrians’ view.  Very cool all around.

… that the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) is seeking public comment on the Dempster Street Rapid Transit Planning Study, which is a planning study that will focus on the characteristics of a potential Arterial Rapid Transit (ART) – fast-bus corridor along Dempster Street from the Davis Street station in the City of Evanston East-West to the Kiss-n-Fly at O’Hare Airport. Public comments may be submitted by phone, e-mail, or in-person at an RTA budget hearing. For more information, visit the RTA’s website at www.rtachicago.com

… that a father biking with his daughter along the canal recently saw a bittern.

… that, speaking of local wildlife, TG recently heard from a reader that the foliage at the water treatment plant at Howard and McCormick is getting so dense and growing so close to the road that deer are wandering into McCormick, creating potentially dangerous situations. The caller that alerted TG to this said he had nearly hit three deer a few days ago. Cutting back the vegetation there would make things safer, he thought.

… that the state has upped the fines for “excessive truck and bus idling in the state’s most densely populated areas.” State fines range from $50 to $90 for a first offense and from $150 to $500 for subsequent violations. Evanston‘s ordinance limits a “parked motor vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of eight thousand (8,000) pounds” to five minutes of idling per hour, with some official municipal
and legal exceptions, with a $150 fine
for violations. 

… that

Bridge Street

recently received new yellow stripes down its center.                                            

… that Cintas, a company that provides supplies for commercial bathrooms, recently announced the winner of its annual “America‘s Best Restroom” contest: Shoji Tabuchi Theatre in Branson, Mo. The announcement of the winner said, “Ladies can look forward to a powder room fit for a queen, with ornate mirrors framed in gold, decorative chandeliers and fresh-cut orchids. For once, the guys can seek refuge in an equally magnificent Gentleman’s Lounge … with black lion-head sinks, … a marble fireplace and [an] adjoining billiard room” with a portrait of Honest Abe looking down.

From our readers:

TG: I don’t think anyone can quarrel with violations of the leaf blower ordinance being a low priority for the police department, when other calls of a more pressing need are being received and answered. That’s understandable. But c’mon, the police aren’t chasing bad guys all the time. Far too often over the years, when dealing with quality-of-life issues included in the City’s noise ordinance such as the leaf-blower ban, low priority is synonymous with “Uphold in spirit but ignore in enforcement.”

If that isn’t true, then why can’t (don’t), the police – when they’re on routine, non-emergency patrol through the neighborhoods – issue tickets for the leaf-blower violations they certainly see?  Why can’t (don’t), they at least stop or slow down, and make liberal use of the loudspeaker on their cars to “issue” an attention-getting verbal warning to the violators? If either of those measures was followed, instead of just sometimes responding (in a low-priority fashion) to a citizen’s called-in complaint, we wouldn’t still be having problems with leaf-blowers some 13 or 14 years after the ban went into effect.

But I’m not only pointing to the police department for turning deaf ears to leaf blower enforcement – aldermen, too, are just as non-responsive. They surely, over the years (I can vouch for ours) have received an earful of complaints from their constituents, and yet nothing has ever been done to step up, even slightly, the enforcement of the ordinance.

Using a leaf blower for only 5 or 10 minutes might not seem like much of an irritation, but it is 5 or 10 minutes more than the law allows. In our neighborhood, every homeowner who utilizes a lawn service employs a different service, meaning that, when one offending crew departs, within a very short period of time another arrives nearby to begin the ordinance violation process all over again. On almost any given day, it’s literally hours of leaf blower use, not merely that five or 10 minutes.  As someone once said, “There are worse things than leaf blowers, but I can’t think of any because of all the noise.”

No one’s demanding that lawn service crews give up their golf-course type lawnmowers (why not?), or other equipment and use scissors instead.  They’re allowed extensive use of leaf blowers for major yard cleanup in spring and fall.  But what’s wrong with push-brooms or rakes in the summer, in lieu of leaf blowers used only to clear sidewalks and driveways? Just how inconvenienced would the lawn services then be?  And who should bear the burden of inconvenience anyhow –
the lawn services, or the citizens of Evanston  – because of an unenforced
leaf blower ban?

– Larry Korcyl

From TG: Your points are also very well made, Mr. Korcyl. TG thinks (and has said this before) that the City should give the parking-ticket writers at least two days a month (unannounced to the public) when they can write up other violations, preferably those of the noise ordinances.

TG: The cityofevanston.org website says the entire City is 7.8 square miles. So if they plan to install 19 square miles of sidewalks, we can easily double-deck the entire City and have enough left to triple-deck downtown.  – Bob LeBailly

From TG: See mea culpa above.
Or the City could turn all the parkways and yards into sidewalks, thus eliminating grass and leaves and, of course, leaf-
blower-ordinance violations.

The Traffic Guy thinks …

… that the City should find a better use than simply storage for the Recycling Center. If it can’t be useful, make it pretty: Tear the thing down and restore the park. Put up some nice public art there or a
wading pool.

TG has received some questions and will respond to them when there is sufficient information to provide a fair answer.

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