Publicly appreciated or not, crossing guards help kids get safely to and from school every day.

… that the Transportation/Parking Committee may seem to be caught between the horns of a dilemma: The operator of the downtown garages, Central Parking System, suggested to the committee that the City could increase its revenues by about $1 million by reconfiguring the hourly rates in the garages – without increasing the maximum daily rate. Another suggestion was to increase the meter rate in the downtown area to $1 per hour. Admittedly, the parking fund needs more money, but perhaps if the parking rates were attractive, or at least reasonable, more people would come downtown and we could garner, say, more sales tax revenue. 

A new green parking meter is operating in the 600 block of Clark Street on a two-month trial basis. It’s one of the new ones, where parkers pay at one meter then display the receipt on the dash board, and it’s solar-powered. Parking Services Manager Ricky Voss said solar energy recharges the battery, but the solar applicator does not produce enough energy to accept bills.

… that the City will sell another group of surplus vehicles and equipment, all in “poor” or “very poor” condition.

… that a resident near Main/Chicago who keeps tabs on illegal parking near the alley just east of Chicago reports a decrease in early-morning violations on weekdays. She says she’s looking at what violations occur on nights and weekends and at different times on weekdays.

… that last Tuesday was Honor Crossing Guards Day. TG is unsure how many crossing guards in Evanston were recognized by those they help get safely to and from school. Here’s a picture of Ernest on Main Street at Washington School. He has been a crossing guard for six years. Asked if anyone did anything special for him that day he said, “No,” but added, “I do have wonderful parents.”

… that the space shuttle Endeavor’s last trip will hold pieces of Evanston. Six square-inch samples of materials created by Northwestern’s Mark Hersam and his research team will be on board, according to a report from NU. Professor Hersam’s carbon nanotube and graphene thin films will spend at least six months mounted on the outside of the International Space Station to see if they degrade in the harsh environment of outer space or are stable. Radiation damage is a major issue with materials used in spacecraft. “Our samples must go into space to prove themselves. This is the ultimate test. If the materials are resistant to radiation there, they could be used to dramatically improve the technology currently used in space, such as that found in satellites,” said Prof. Hersam, of the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.

… that the Active Transportation Alliance reports that Governor Pat Quinn said the state has begun tracking “dooring” crashes – those accidents involving bicyclists who are struck by opened doors from parked cars. The ATA statement also said, ‘“As more people are riding bicycles and embracing other green modes of transportation, we need to ensure that Illinois collects data that presents a complete picture of what is happening on our roads,’ said Governor Quinn. This policy is the result of collaboration among Governor Quinn, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Active Transportation Alliance.” Before this change, dooring collisions went unrecognized in IDOT’s annual reporting of traffic statistics, because a moving motor vehicle was not involved. Once the data has been compiled and analyze, IDOT can use it to plan “improved roadway designs and additional communication with motorists in areas with high concentrations of bicyclists.” The ATA – and bicyclists throughout the state – appreciate the measure.

… that those Asian carp are hardier than once thought: Apparently some scientists have found that they can live on algae in Lake Michigan – surviving in a way previously not considered possible.

… that changes to the Seniors Ride Free (SRF) program are coming. For one thing, beginning June 1, new applications for the SRF program will be means-tested, according to the RTA. Seniors who qualify for the Department on Aging’s Circuit Breaker Program will receive a new senior “Circuit Ride Free” card.  All others will receive a “Reduced Fare” card. Eligible seniors should receive new cards by Sept. 1.  

… that researchers from Northwestern University and Argonne National Laboratory have found a striking use for pond scum. They report that “a common freshwater alga [has a] remarkable ability to remove strontium from water. Insight into this mechanism ultimately could help scientists design methods to remove radioactive strontium from existing nuclear waste.” According to NU, “Strontium 90, a major waste component, is one of the more dangerous radioactive fission materials created within a nuclear reactor. It is present in the approximately 80 million gallons of radioactive waste sludge stored in the United States alone. The researchers are the first to show quantitatively how Closterium moniliferum, one of the bright green algae often seen in ponds, sequesters strontium. … They are using this understanding to think about a practical sequestration system for nuclear waste that maximizes strontium removal.”

The Traffic Guy thinks …

… that for some shoppers there seems to be an inverse proportion between the City’s parking rates and the distance to other shopping areas: The greater the parking rates in Evanston, the shorter the distance to Skokie and Wilmette.

… that if any changes are going to be made in the downtown garages, one should be to that “first hour free” gimmick. For one thing, it is not true, as anyone who has parked in a downtown parking garage more than one hour but less than two already knows. Customers who park for less than one hour do not have to pay, but those who park for more than one hour have to pay the full freight. People who compose the signs should be able to do the math.

… that the idea of a single-themed Citywide public art display is coming around again. Similar to Chicago’s “Cows on Parade” a few years ago, Evanston would have some form of public art, all pieces the same shape, decorated by businesses or individuals or sponsors spread throughout the town. One suggestion was lighthouses. TG hasn’t heard any more but has a few suggestions to offer, which, like the lighthouse, evoke Evanston – Tinker Toy-like sculptures, CFL bulbs, ice-cream sundaes, parking meters and, of course, something that alludes to both our quirky idealism and our sustainability goals: windmills.