City Council passed an updated bike plan at its July 28 meeting, revising a 2002-03 plan, despite numerous objections from the public and an effort by Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, to hold the document pending further community input.
The new bike plan, which, according to the staff memo, cost approximately $122,000 to prepare ($100,000 came from a grant), will serve as a guide document for City decisions on matters such as bike lanes, shelters, shared bike services, bike racks and park paths. The bike plan “is just one more step in the process,” said City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz.
Bike lanes proved to be the most controversial aspect of the plan for residents. A large contingent of neighbors from the Davis Street corridor west of Asbury Avenue spoke both July 28 and July 21 to protest a proposed sheltered bike lane on Davis. Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, called the Davis Street issue a “clear foreshadowing about what’s to come with neighbors.”
The resolution that accompanied the bike plan also proposed “new or improved bike facilities to be installed 2014-15” on five streets, including Davis Street from Ridge Avenue west to Mason Park. The Davis Street neighbors were concerned about the loss of parking, particularly in front of a church, in favor of a dedicated (and presumably bright green) bicycle lane.
Ald. Wilson proposed an amendment to the resolution indicating that bike lanes should be designed “to avoid eliminating existing parking” and preserve as many trees as possible. Dodge Avenue from Howard Street to Church Street, Sheridan Road from Chicago Avenue to Isabella Street, Church Street from McCormick Boulevard to Dodge Avenue and Chicago Avenue from Davis Street to Sheridan Road are also on the near-term list for bike lanes.
The resolution that accompanied the bike plan included plans to “develop comfortable corridors in Evanston.” Such corridors are in the planning stages only. Chicago and Hinman avenues; Howard Street; Asbury Avenue and Green Bay Road; Maple Avenue/Noyes Street /Sherman Avenue; Greenleaf Street, Oakton Street/Callan Avenue/South Boulevard; Sheridan Road and Edgemere Court; and Lincoln Street/Harrison Street /Lincolnwood Drive make up the mid-term “comfortable corridors” to do list.
Faced with constituent questions and a lack of time to publicize the plan, Ald. Braithwaite moved to table the resolution until mid-September to allow for more resident input. The motion failed, having garnered only four of the needed five votes. The resolution itself then passed 7-2.
The complete 39-page bike plan, along with a number of background documents, maps and resident surveys, can be found on the City of Evanston website at http://www.cityofevanston.org/public-works/bikeability/.
According to the staff memo, the 2002-03 bike plan resulted in 38 miles of new bike paths. The new bike plan seeks to build on that accomplishment. If the initial reaction is any indicator, residents are not always completely enthusiastic about new bike lanes in their neighborhoods.