Evanston Police Commander Joseph Dugan and City of Evanston inter-governmental affairs coordinator Yida Capriccioso point out the proper (rear wheel attached to bike rack) and improper (bike attached to street light) ways to park a bicycle in down-town Evanston.RoundTable photo

The City and the Police Department are out to see that bicycles and their riders make it home safely from their downtown trips.

“Evanston is one of nine bike-friendly communities in the Illinois. We have more than 50 bike racks and two on-street corrals in downtown Evanston,” said Yida Capriccioso, assistant to the City manager, intergovernmental affairs coordinator.

“Our bike ridership has increased 130% since 2010,” Ms. Capriccioso said, with almost 4% of Evanstonians using their bikes as the primary mode of transportation.

Protected bike lanes on Church and Davis streets follow the direction of the traffic, and Police Commander Joseph Dugan said bikers should ride only in the proper direction – east on Church Street and west on Davis. Drivers must keep an eye out for bicyclists, particularly at corners where the bike lanes end. Bike-riding on sidewalks is not permitted in downtown Evanston.

“For longer stays – dinner and a movie – the best place to park is the Sherman Avenue garage,” said Ms. Capriccioso. “It’s just off the protected bike lane on Davis Street and it’s free.” The second-floor racks in the garage are protected from the weather and monitored for safety, she said, and the elevator is spacious enough to hold a bicycle.

Most bicyclers know the safest way to lock a bicycle is to use a U-lock and fasten the rear wheel to the rack, Ms. Capriccioso said. Removable attachments should be taken off and kept with the bicycler.

Evanston Police Officers Will Arzuaga and Otha Brooks, two of the 11 members of the Police Department’s bicycle unit, offered safety tips for bike-riders: wearing appropriate safety gear, including a helmet, gloves, reflective clothing, and shorts or pants that will not get caught in the spokes and having front and back lights and a bell.

On the street, said Ms. Capriccioso, “We remind people not to lock bikes to parking meters, street signs, lamp posts or trees.” A bike chain or cable can damage the bark of a tree, while a bicycle attached to a parking meter can be easily stolen. “Someone can lift a bike over the meter and take it,” said Cmdr. Dugan.

The small pedestrian lights in the downtown area are not to be used as bike racks, Ms. Capriccioso said, pointing to the upside-down U-shaped racks interspersed among those lights.

The July 21 presentation on bicycle parking in the downtown area was part of the City’s “Let’s Roll Together” campaign to encourage and assist bicyclists, drivers, and pedestrians in practicing safe traffic behavior.