This sign, in front of Washington School, has suffered the most abuse by drivers, according to the City. Once the crossing guard was even run off the road.

… that drivers are bemused, irritated or confused by those rebuses (word + pictures) showing up within and adjacent to pedestrian crosswalks around town. But they’re going to have to get acclimated: More are coming to remind folks of a state law signed into law in July that mandates vehicles stop for pedestrians in walkways.
City engineer Paul Schneider reported last week to the Parking and Transportation Committee (P&TC) that City staff have identified “about 50 locations” for such signs, whose message is “Stop for pedestrian in crosswalk.” About 20 are up already, with 30 more to go, he said. Some signs are placed on corners where there is also striping for crosswalks; others are located mid-block where knuckles or curb bump-outs have been built, extending the sidewalk a bit into the street. This measure serves as a traffic-calming strategy, narrowing the space for cars and decreasing the amount of roadway a pedestrian has to traverse.

But some find the signs themselves confusing. Maybe it’s the combination of words and pictures that tells drivers when and where to stop, or maybe it’s because now there are stop signs out there that are, essentially, optional if there is no one in the crosswalk. So the result is that some drivers stop even at empty crosswalks, surprising and annoying the drivers behind. Others blow right through the crosswalks, empty or not, sometimes hitting the mid-street sign. The sign at Florence Avenue and Main Street “has been knocked down the most,” Mr. Schneider said, adding that once the school crossing guard was even run off the road. Now that intersection is right in front of Washington School and very near Robert Crown. What are people thinking?

A lighter moment about pedestrian safety came when one P&TC member asked about implementing some pedestrian safeguards at Gross Point and Thayer for folks walking across Gross Point to Lovelace Park. Apparently we can’t create a bump-out there because of the bike path, so folks have come up with this idea: a bucket of flags on either side of Gross Point. Anyone who wants to cross the road can pick up a flag and carry it across, signaling to cars to stop. Presumably the crossers could hold the flag high enough to be seen by more than one car. This would of course reduce honking by those who otherwise might not know why a car stopped; it won’t, of course, reduce honks from drivers who are too important or impatient to stop for pedestrians.

Some of the flags might be stolen, “but once everyone who wants one has one” there should be enough for pedestrians to ferry themselves across the road.

“You’re kidding” was one person’s reply. “The pedestrians will get picked off,” was another’s.

TG is naturally disappointed in the monotonous white stripes of the crosswalks, having suggested that they should be color-coded to fit in with the area: e.g. orange and blue at ETHS, purple at NU, green in the business districts (feng-shui for money) and maybe little fishies at the Lovelace Park self-ferry.

… that free holiday parking in downtown-area garages has begun – 5 p.m.-midnight and all day on Saturdays – and extends through Jan. 1.

… that, not so free but important to avoid paying more money, is the purchase of next year’s vehicle stickers. The City’s Revenue Office (used to be the “Collector’s Office”) will be open 7:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. on Mondays Dec. 13, 20 and 27 and on Jan.3. It will also be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Jan. 8. Remember, even if the sticker fee (aka “wheel tax”) is steep, the penalties for not purchasing and properly displaying them are steeper.

… that illegal parking near Main and Chicago is increasing, perhaps not a surprising occurrence with all those thriving businesses there. In particular, the bit of curb just east of the alley that’s just east of Main Street seems to be a prime spot for tucking in a car to duck in to a business for a few minutes. … that the west front steps of the Morton Civic Center are undergoing reconstruction. The City reports that the entire staircase was “removed recently due to deterioration beyond repair.

City staff is developing plans to rebuild this staircase and anticipates construction to begin this winter, weather permitting.” So use the Ridge Avenue doors or one of the other west-side entrances. TG anticipates a wonderful new staircase, perhaps with poems or images cast into the concrete, as was done recently at the Library. Maybe cool blue concrete. Or green, with shades of some of our elms, oaks and birches on the steps or the stoop.

… that, speaking of facelifts, some businesses in the Chicago/Main area will likely be spruced up in the coming months. Oceanique Restaurant, l 505 Main St., proposes to restore the tiles located under the storefront windows, change the signage, replace the bronze plaque on the storefront, replace both the windows and front door, and replace the awning on the front of the building, according to the City. Further west, Evanston Festival Theatre, 600 Main St. (in the Main Street Metra Station), “proposes to install six antique-style lighting fixtures along the west face of the building at the train platform level. Just north and around the corner, Few Spirits, the micro-distillery that will probably be located at 918 Chicago Ave., “proposes to replace the existing building’s door and window and paint the exterior of the building.”

… that the CTA has been studying its Red Line and Purple Line overpasses, and, with the help of NU, now has a way of measuring the stress put upon the arches and supports by each (over)passing train. From a map printed in another newspaper, it looks like most of the overpasses between Church and Howard have more than lived a useful life.

… that, speaking of mass transit companies, the Union Pacific/Metra ought to consider better maintenance of its retaining walls. Here’s a pic, e.g., of crumbling and possibly water erosion along Green Bay between Simpson and Emerson.

… that, in addition to the ridiculously placed stoplight on Sheridan Road near Garrett, the City gave Northwestern an easement just south/east of the curve at Chicago. The University will in essence rent space under Sheridan about 250 feet east of Chicago Avenue for a tunnel that may, in the future, contain wires, cables, chilled water, pipes, or other communications equipment. The University will pay the City $1,102.50 a year, or 50 cents per square foot. The rate is the same rate that the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District would charge the City for a similar easement, said Assistant City Manager Martin Lyons.

… that tomorrow is the last day until Spring for yard-waste pickups.

… that now the snow-parking regulations have kicked in. Remember, heed the sign, not the look of the street. PEOs and tow trucks will get you if you don’t watch out.

… that Secretary of State Jesse White has begun a statewide “Enforcement for Shoppers Abusing Accessible [parking for persons with a disdability] Parking Spaces.” Over Black Friday weekend, the officers cited 43 drivers who parked illegally in those parking spaces. There is a maximum fine of $500 for using a placard or disability license plates without the authorized holder present. In addition, violators can be subject to a 30-day administrative driver’s license suspension from the Secretary of State for the first offense. The fine for parking in an accessible parking space without a parking placard or disability license plates can be as much $350. So, really, folks, park and shop in Evanston.

… that, according to Crain’s, Romanek Properties Ltd. is close to an agreement to buy the 909 Davis building in downtown Evanston. Those transfer-tax stamps should help the City budget. And speaking of real estate, TG hears that part of the old Mayfair railroad berm is for sale. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone bought the whole thing and made it into a bike and hiking trail?

… that four Chicago-area residents, including at least one Evanstonian are semi-finalists in the National Purina Tidy Cats “search for America’s most welcoming home” contest . Here’s the PR from Purina: If you think a multiple cat home is dirty, smelly and untidy … think again. That is the message from Chicago residents Leslie Hirshfield, Molly Moynahan, Colleen Kelly and Kelly Baze.” Through Dec. 15, folks can go to www.TidyCats.com and vote to help select the top two finalists. Oh, boy, this should make the City’s Human Services Committee go bonkers with its cat ordinance.

The Traffic Guy thinks …

… that Sunday’s free open house at the Evanston History Center will feature The Three Mayors – Elizabeth Tisdahl (present) and Lorraine Morton (former) and Joan Barr Smith (former) – judging holiday wreaths to see which will grace the Dawes House. TG thinks they should also entertain: Though we’ve not seen much in the way of singing or dancing from Mayor Liz or Mayor Joan, most anyone who has lived in Evanston in the past 10 years has seen Mayor Lorraine sing and dance. TG predicts that a Three Mayors DVD could take Evanston right out of its financial squeeze. Here are some of the songs, adaptable for Evanston: By Mayor Barr-Smith: “My Kind of Town” (Mt. Trashmore is … the unbuilt tower is … our pristine lakefront is). Mayor Morton’s fabulous solo “You’re Nobody Til Somebody Loves You” is sure to be a hit. Getting down to the leaner, grimmer present, we suggest for Mayor Liz Tis: “Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime?”