Street light or bike rack?

Not all aldermen were happy with the Davis Street Improvement Plan presented to them at the April 16 City Council meeting. Nonetheless they approved it that night, with the pledge to work out some details the following week. Those details, which threatened to stall the approval of the plan, concerned parking in the 500 block of Hinman Avenue and street “furniture,” such as lights, benches and trash cans.

At the April 22 Council meeting, aldermen appeared to agree on a pilot program for parking and a bike lane in that block.

The plan for improving the downtown section of Davis Street and some sections farther west includes replacing water mains from Benson Avenue to Hinman Avenue, replacing sewers from Orrington Avenue to Hinman Avenue, and upgrading the streetscape from Hinman Avenue to Ridge Avenue. The City will also install a protected bike lane – essentially the mirror image of the Church Street lane – from Hinman Avenue to Asbury Avenue.

Street Elements

The proposed design elements along Davis Street might have been the same as those along Church Street had not aldermen Mark Tendam and Melissa Wynne strongly disagreed with the most visible of them: the bike shelter, trash cans, benches and pedestrian lighting.

Ald. Wynne, 3rd Ward, said she did not understand the pedestrian lights along Church Street. “I thought they were bike racks. Can you explain to me why we are installing these lights when we are trying to remove clutter from the downtown area?” she said.

“The pedestrian lighting is designed to light paths. It is important along Orrington for pedestrians who don’t feel safe.

“But they’re along Church, not Orrington,” said Ald. Wynne. Ms. Robinson said the plan was to install these small lights “on the TIF [tax-increment financing) district borders. “It made sense to do it as a pilot.”

Ald. Wynne said she thought they add to the clutter downtown and provide “inadequate lighting if you’re really trying to light it up. The light is wasted.”

“What is the cost?” asked Ald. Wynne.

“About $2,100 for each light,” said Ms. Robinson. She said she did not know how many lights are planned for the Davis Street project but said there are 118 of them on Church Street.

Ald. Wynne, noting that the cost of the lights for the Davis Street project would be about $250,000, said, “I would suggest that the lights are not doing what they should do – which is reduce clutter and improve lighting. And the design is ugly.”

Ald. Fiske said, “A number of restaurants said they have a lot of valet parking [because] people are concerned that they are not safe. These lights will make them feel safer and create a safe route to campus. Everyone from students to seniors appreciates the lights. We have received a lot of positive feedback.”

Ald. Tendam, 6th Ward, who is also a designer, said he agreed that the lights present “added clutter” to the downtown area. Moreover, he said he objected to the “artistic reference. Art Deco is inappropriate on Church Street. … This is a valid design issue.”

“I agree with Ald. Tendam – it’s a design issue,” said Ald. Wynne. “It looks like something straight out of the Jetsons.

Not only the lights, but the benches and trash cans are, at present, Art Deco.  

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said the fixtures are a “less critical” part of the streetscape plan and said City staff would “come back with a street-furniture package.”

The Bike Lane Limits Some Parking

The tension between promoting sustainable practices by installing a second protected bike lane on Davis Street and providing convenient on-street parking for downtown patrons crystallized in the April 16 discussion.

Installing the new protected bike lane on Davis Street in downtown Evanston would result in a net reduction of seven on-street parking spaces: a loss of 10 on the block between Chicago and Hinman avenues and a net gain of three spaces between Oak and Ridge Avenues, said Public Works Director Suzette Robinson.

The loss of parking spaces between Hinman and Chicago avenues would come from widening the sidewalk and converting the 24 existing angle-parking spaces into 14 parallel spaces, said Ms. Robinson.

First Ward Alderman Judy Fiske said decreasing the parking spaces there would adversely affect businesses, especially the five restaurants, in that area. She also said that some businesses were opposed to widening of the sidewalks in the downtown.

Ms. Robinson said she had heard the same objections.

Carolyn Dellutri, executive director of Downtown Evanston, said a survey of the downtown businesses showed that most – 34 of 35 businesses that responded to the survey – were not in favor of widening the sidewalk or reducing the number of parking spaces.

“The businesses – except the bicycle shop – did not favor a bike lane, especially between Hinman and Chicago.”

Most of the aldermen appeared to favor the protected bike lane, despite the reduction in parking spaces. The downtown protected bike lanes will ultimately be part of a bike loop that will connect the lakefront with the Church/Dodge area and then the Dodge/Simpson/McCormick area (Twiggs Park/Ladd Arboretum).

Ald. Fiske said the bike path “coming west on Davis has created its own set of problems.

Ted Mavrokis, who owns the building where Giordano’s Pizza is located and several other buildings, said, “The majority [of businesses] are against the bike path. He suggested that the City create a parking lot on the privately owned vacant parcel on Chicago Avenue.

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, said, “It’s about safety for all involved. … You want to keep the bicycle and the moving car from coming into contact. … People would rather ride the wrong way on the Church Street bike lane than right the right way on the lane on Davis. It is critically important to complete what we started and have a safe loop.”

“I really think the folks that have put their businesses on the line should be respected,” said Ald. Fiske.  

Alderman voted unanimously to approve the Davis Street improvement project, without approving the design for the street elements.

Council was left with the promise that City staff would search out additional space between Hinman and Chicago avenues – such as loading zones that might be unused – to see if any parking spaces could be restored there.

At the April 22 meeting, Ms. Robinson presented three alternatives for the 500 block of Hinman Avenue. The one that seemed most appealing was a trial run of a bike lane and one lane of traffic. Beginning May 13, the block will be striped with one wider lane of traffic and one bike lane. Eight additional parking spaces will be added, she said: three on Davis Street, one on Chicago Avenue and four on Hinman Avenue.

Not all aldermen were happy with the Davis Street Improvement Plan presented to them at the April 16 City Council meeting. Nonetheless they approved it that night, with the pledge to work out some details the following week. Those details, which threatened to stall the approval of the plan, concerned parking in the 500 block of Hinman Avenue and street “furniture,” such as lights, benches and trash cans.

At the April 22 Council meeting, aldermen appeared to agree on a pilot program for parking and a bike lane in that block.

The plan for improving the downtown section of Davis Street and some sections farther west includes replacing water mains from Benson Avenue to Hinman Avenue, replacing sewers from Orrington Avenue to Hinman Avenue, and upgrading the streetscape from Hinman Avenue to Ridge Avenue. The City will also install a protected bike lane – essentially the mirror image of the Church Street lane – from Hinman Avenue to Asbury Avenue.

Street Elements

The proposed design elements along Davis Street might have been the same as those along Church Street had not aldermen Mark Tendam and Melissa Wynne strongly disagreed with the most visible of them: the bike shelter, trash cans, benches and pedestrian lighting.

Ald. Wynne, 3rd Ward, said she did not understand the pedestrian lights along Church Street. “I thought they were bike racks. Can you explain to me why we are installing these lights when we are trying to remove clutter from the downtown area?” she said.

“The pedestrian lighting is designed to light paths. It is important along Orrington for pedestrians who don’t feel safe.

“But they’re along Church, not Orrington,” said Ald. Wynne. Ms. Robinson said the plan was to install these small lights “on the TIF [tax-increment financing) district borders. “It made sense to do it as a pilot.”

Ald. Wynne said she thought they add to the clutter downtown and provide “inadequate lighting if you’re really trying to light it up. The light is wasted.”

“What is the cost?” asked Ald. Wynne.

“About $2,100 for each light,” said Ms. Robinson. She said she did not know how many lights are planned for the Davis Street project but said there are 118 of them on Church Street.

Ald. Wynne, noting that the cost of the lights for the Davis Street project would be about $250,000, said, “I would suggest that the lights are not doing what they should do – which is reduce clutter and improve lighting. And the design is ugly.”

Ald. Fiske said, “A number of restaurants said they have a lot of valet parking [because] people are concerned that they are not safe. These lights will make them feel safer and create a safe route to campus. Everyone from students to seniors appreciates the lights. We have received a lot of positive feedback.”

Ald. Tendam, 6th Ward, who is also a designer, said he agreed that the lights present “added clutter” to the downtown area. Moreover, he said he objected to the “artistic reference. Art Deco is inappropriate on Church Street. … This is a valid design issue.”

“I agree with Ald. Tendam – it’s a design issue,” said Ald. Wynne. “It looks like something straight out of the Jetsons.

Not only the lights, but the benches and trash cans are, at present, Art Deco.  

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said the fixtures are a “less critical” part of the streetscape plan and said City staff would “come back with a street-furniture package.”

The Bike Lane Limits Some Parking

The tension between promoting sustainable practices by installing a second protected bike lane on Davis Street and providing convenient on-street parking for downtown patrons crystallized in the April 16 discussion.

Installing the new protected bike lane on Davis Street in downtown Evanston would result in a net reduction of seven on-street parking spaces: a loss of 10 on the block between Chicago and Hinman avenues and a net gain of three spaces between Oak and Ridge Avenues, said Public Works Director Suzette Robinson.

The loss of parking spaces between Hinman and Chicago avenues would come from widening the sidewalk and converting the 24 existing angle-parking spaces into 14 parallel spaces, said Ms. Robinson.

First Ward Alderman Judy Fiske said decreasing the parking spaces there would adversely affect businesses, especially the five restaurants, in that area. She also said that some businesses were opposed to widening of the sidewalks in the downtown.

Ms. Robinson said she had heard the same objections.

Carolyn Dellutri, executive director of Downtown Evanston, said a survey of the downtown businesses showed that most – 34 of 35 businesses that responded to the survey – were not in favor of widening the sidewalk or reducing the number of parking spaces.

“The businesses – except the bicycle shop – did not favor a bike lane, especially between Hinman and Chicago.”

Most of the aldermen appeared to favor the protected bike lane, despite the reduction in parking spaces. The downtown protected bike lanes will ultimately be part of a bike loop that will connect the lakefront with the Church/Dodge area and then the Dodge/Simpson/McCormick area (Twiggs Park/Ladd Arboretum).

Ald. Fiske said the bike path “coming west on Davis has created its own set of problems.

Ted Mavrokis, who owns the building where Giordano’s Pizza is located and several other buildings, said, “The majority [of businesses] are against the bike path. He suggested that the City create a parking lot on the privately owned vacant parcel on Chicago Avenue.

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, said, “It’s about safety for all involved. … You want to keep the bicycle and the moving car from coming into contact. … People would rather ride the wrong way on the Church Street bike lane than right the right way on the lane on Davis. It is critically important to complete what we started and have a safe loop.”

“I really think the folks that have put their businesses on the line should be respected,” said Ald. Fiske.  

Alderman voted unanimously to approve the Davis Street improvement project, without approving the design for the street elements.

Council was left with the promise that City staff would search out additional space between Hinman and Chicago avenues – such as loading zones that might be unused – to see if any parking spaces could be restored there.

At the April 22 meeting, Ms. Robinson presented three alternatives for the 500 block of Hinman Avenue. The one that seemed most appealing was a trial run of a bike lane and one lane of traffic. Beginning May 13, the block will be striped with one wider lane of traffic and one bike lane. Eight additional parking spaces will be added, she said: three on Davis Street, one on Chicago Avenue and four on Hinman Avenue.