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City Council has announced a pilot under which stop signs will be placed at select alleys. Having run out of locations for stop signs at regular intersections across large swaths of the City, the Council announced as an important safety and traffic calming initiative on April 1.
“Honestly, I can’t think of an intersection that does not have either a stop sign or a traffic light in the entire third ward,” said the City’s Automobile Stagnation Czar Pearl LeBlanc. “We simply must take additional measures to slow cars even more.” Alleys at Hinman, Michigan and Judson avenues were announced as the first target streets for the pilot stop signs.
Bicycles will not be required to stop for the special, orange colored “alley stops” according to the ordinance creating the legal obligation for cars to stop at alleys. “Let’s face it,” said. Ms. LeBlanc, “bikes don’t stop for regular stop signs, so we can’t realistically expect them to stop for these orange signs, can we?”
The City recently undertook an effort to expand traditional four-way intersection stop signs to include three-way intersections as well. Nearly all three-way intersections are now signed, however, causing the City to look at additional alternatives in an effort to slow already crawling Evanston automobiles even further.
According to the ordinance, the City expects additional enforcement to result in signs that pay for themselves – and rather quickly. “If we issue just 15 additional stop-sign tickets per day, these signs will effectively cost the City nothing,” said Ms. LeBlanc. “Even with the added cost of the nearly fluorescent orange hue, a few $100 tickets add up very quickly.”
In fact, the increased enforcement will result in added revenue for City coffers in less than a year’s time according to the staff memo. “We can use the funds for additional traffic calming measures,” said Ms. LeBlanc, “such as drone-carried caution lights designed to follow any car a computer monitoring program deems to be driving too aggressively.”
Some Evanston residents reacted with all-too-familiar outrage. “Once again, we see this is the People’s Republic of Evanston,” said local curmudgeon and frequent City critic Alberto Incognito. “Control; control; control; tax and fine, tax and fine; tax and fine. When will it end?”
Self-proclaimed efficiency and flow expert Phillips Mallox, appearing before Council to protest the proposed ordinance, called the additional stop signs outrageous. “This is the worst decision in the history of traffic management,” he said. “This is even worse than the stoplights along Dempster at Fowler, Hartrey and the shopping center — all three seem to always be red. This is even worse than the bizarre Elgin-Emerson lights that seem to be red for all traffic in all directions about half the time. Worse than the lack of turn lanes at Chicago and South –“
“That’s enough, sir,” said Ms LeBlanc, sitting as Mayor pro tem, cutting off a red-faced and gesticulating Mr. Mallox.
Others, though, felt the measure did not go far enough. “They have left off the major traffic arteries entirely,” said bicycle enthusiast Hank Saddleworth. “Sometimes traffic actually flows down Ridge. Why? We need – nay, we must! – slow that traffic down. Orange signs! Caution drones! Bring them to Ridge. And Chicago around Dempster. …” he paused. “I take that back. Traffic doesn’t really flow through there.”
Council spent no time debating, as they have yet to meet a stop sign they did not immediately approve without debate. Same for the orange signs, which passed unanimously on the consent agenda. Look for the first signs to appear at an alley intersection near you on or about April 1.