The sign that keeps on annoying.

… that vehicle stickers must be paid for and displayed on the driver’s-side front window by next week. The Revenue Office (used to be Collector’s Office) at the Civic Center will be open this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to process your vehicle sticker applications. The City says this may be the last year we’ll need the stickers themselves, as we’re getting license-plate-recognition software. So all a PEO (parking-enforcement officer) will have to do is flash a radar gun or wand or a Star Trek tricorder or something at your license plate and learn whether you’ve paid your wheel tax, how long your car has been parked in that space and who knows what else?

… that the City has provided the following information about new laws that went into effect as of Jan. 1 of this year: “Penalties are amplified for people who transport children in an automobile who fail to properly secure the child in either a car seat or with a seatbelt.” Another law requires pet shops and shelters to “disclose information to new animal-owners regarding the animals being sold/adopted.” Still another is an increase in penalties for false 911 calls or filing false police reports. A new law “prohibits convicted sexual predators and child-sex-offenders from being within 500 feet of public parks.” Finally, according to the City, “speeding 30 m.p.h. over the limit is no longer a petty offense punishable by fine only. Now, a ticket for going 30 m.p.h. over the speed limit has a penalty of up to six months in jail and a $1,500 fine. Speeding 40 m.p.h. or more over the limit may carry a maximum penalty of up to one year in jail and a fine of $2,500.”

… that the City reports that the average DUI offender in Illinois is male (79 percent arrested are men); age 34 (61 percent are under age 35); arrested between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. on a weekend; and caught driving with a blood alcohol count of .16 – twice the legal limit.

… that parking spaces on the top floor of the Maple Avenue garage are essentially on sale, as they have been on the top of the Sherman Avenue garage. The program is essentially the same for both garages: Those who are willing to park in the open air can benefit from a reduced monthly rate – $50 instead of $85. Only 250 spaces are available, so act now. Further information and applications are available between 8 a.m. and midnight Monday through Saturday on the first floor of the garage. Other contacts are, by mail, Maple Avenue Self Park-CPS Parking 1800 Maple Ave., Evanston, 60201, or by phone, 847-866-9240. A parking transponder will be available the next business day after receipt of the completed application. The City says it “anticipates more street-level parking will be available for customers and visitors” (meaning: once we get the commuters and downtown employees off the streets).

… that the Winthrop Club at 1517 Elmwood Ave. is now called “One Evanston.”

From our readers:

 TG: The recent installation of the pedestrian/stop signs at several locations in Evanston is just another example of an irritant to driving through Evanston. The “stop for pedestrians in walkways,” which became effective in Illinois this past April is one of several laws that come on the books each year. … However, there was very little advance notice and explanation to drivers or pedestrians, and both must be partners in assuring that the law works and traffic and pedestrian flow is smooth.

This law does not give pedestrians the right, at the very last moment, to enter a crosswalk, causing a car to slam on its breaks and get rear-ended. But the installation of the new signs is causing more confusion than necessary. I have been behind cars that stop suddenly when approaching a crosswalk where there are no pedestrians in the area – because we have been programmed to stop at the red octagonal sign. And that part of the sign is the first thing we see.

How many people do you see driving with wipers going but without their headlamps on? Should we have signs for that law? How about turning headlights on after dark? Do you need a sign to tell you that you cannot see as well in the dark as you do in the day?

Why not just publicize the law so that all drivers and pedestrian are aware of the new rules? These new signs may be a bigger menace than not having signs at all. And what about their effect on snow-plowing and costs involved with their installation and replacement when they are hit?

Over the seven years I have lived in Evanston, I have found it to be the most frustrating place in which to drive. The streets are rife with uncoordinated traffic lights, lights that disrupt the flow of traffic (such as Dempster at Elmwood or Main at Hinman).

Get off the Edens at Dempster and you will most likely make all of the lights from Lockwood to McCormick. Cross McCormick and you will most likely be stopped at every light on Dempster to Chicago Avenue, as well as at stop signs at locations that make no sense.

Try to turn from Ridge/Green Bay onto Emerson, a very high-incident intersection. The City apparently cannot figure out how to reduce accidents there. Northbound drivers can be assured, as the light turns green, the left-turn arrow goes to yellow and the southbound traffic starts rolling. If you can make the turn, the light on Asbury will stop you, not allowing traffic at Ridge to clear the intersection. Extend the time of the green turn-arrow and time the Asbury light to be green with the green arrow – sounds like a no-brainer.

And now a light is proposed for Sheridan Road at Garret to get students safely from one side of Sheridan to the other.

I have friends who don’t want to drive into Evanston because of the difficulty, inconvenience and frustration our traffic patterns provide. … I suggest that Evanston rethink its entire approach to traffic engineering. What’s currently in place is not working to anyone’s benefit.

– Barry Goldberg

From TG: Just a few things: 1) TG has seen those signs in other states, so someone seems to have a monopoly on the chaos; 2) The traffic light at Sheridan and Garrett is not necessarily for student safety but to control traffic once the University puts in a four-story underground garage there; 3) Even though the driving is crazy here (as an example, a friend TG was meeting for dinner refused to park in a downtown garage even though it was free because he’s “always had bad luck there”), the people are great and the place is always entertaining; 4) Want a job writing a traffic column for a great suburban newspaper?

TG Predictions for 2011 …

Someone (a shop-owner or other entrepreneur) will take TG up on last year’s suggestion about selling bags of quarters for changeless potential customers: a cute bag containing three quarters could go for a dollar. While this might shrink our parking-ticket revenue, it could make us look like a friendlier place and maybe generate more sales-tax revenues.

Evanston Plaza will become a theme park.

The Library will issue “frequent-miscreant” cards for those who forget (or something) to pay their fines. Ten punches on the card will earn you a day of amnesty for your whole collection of overdue stuff. Or perhaps the Library could sell these cards prepaid, so they can be given to readaholic friends.

The City will publish a nonfiction how-to book (replacing the mystery novel) explaining the parking and street-sweeping regulations.

The new CTA viaducts will in fact be drawbridges to minimize truck scalping.

Given the plethora of storefront churches, Howard and Church streets will switch names.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Send your predictions for 2011 before Christmas to info@evanstonroundtable.com. We are here to listen.