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As the school year begins, the City of Evanston is reminding pedestrians of tips for safe travel and encouraging them to alert the City about locations where crosswalk push buttons may not be functioning.

The City’s Public Works Agency currently maintains 102 intersections with traffic signals. Of those, approximately 60 percent have pedestrian crosswalk push buttons, which trigger a pedestrian walk signal when it’s their turn in the next traffic cycle. Residents who’ve encountered an intersection where they believe a crosswalk button is not functioning properly are encouraged to tweet the location to @Evanston311 using #WalkEvanston, or submit a 311 service request using the Evanston 311 mobile app, available on the App Store and Google Play, or by calling/texting 847-448-4311.

Evanston Crosswalk Infrastructure
Most Evanston crosswalk buttons are simple, manual push buttons that do not provide an audible signal when activated. However, approximately one third of the City’s crosswalk buttons do provide an electronic beep acknowledging that they’ve been pushed. The City has also installed push buttons in several locations that send out a continuous beeping sound so that vision-impaired pedestrians can locate the button, and then provide audible notice when it’s safe to cross. These push buttons are located along Sheridan Road (Chicago Avenue to Central Street) and along Dempster Street (Dodge to Fowler Avenues). 

For crosswalks not equipped with push buttons, pedestrians receive a WALK signal automatically in each traffic cycle.

Crosswalk Signal Meanings
Pedestrians will encounter three signals when crossing: WALK, flashing DON’T WALK, and steady DON’T WALK. The walking person symbol, or WALK signal, means that it’s the pedestrian’s turn to start crossing. However, pedestrians should always be on the lookout for turning motorists, or those who may run a red light. The flashing orange upraised hand symbol, or DON’T WALK signal, means pedestrians should not start crossing the street. Pedestrians who’ve already stepped into the street during the WALK interval should have enough time to finish crossing. The steady DON’T WALK signal means pedestrians should not begin crossing and should not be in the street. 

The City is in the process of upgrading signalized intersections with countdown timers that display how many seconds remain until the flashing DON’T WALK signal changes to a steady DON’T WALK. Approximately half of signalized Evanston intersections now have countdown timers.

Safety Tips
The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC) offers the following tips for safe crossing:

  • Cross streets at marked crosswalks or intersections;
  • Obey traffic signals, such as WALK/DON’T WALK signs;
  • Look left, right, and left again before crossing a street;
  • Watch for turning vehicles. Make sure the driver sees you and will stop for you;
  • Look across all lanes you must cross and visually clear each lane before proceeding. Even if one motorist stops, do not presume drivers in other lanes can see you and will stop for you;
  • Don’t wear headphones or talk or text on a cell phone while crossing.

In 2015, the PBIC designated Evanston as a Gold Walk Friendly Community for its walkability initiatives and programs. The Walk Friendly Community Designation, awarded from bronze to platinum, is given to applicant communities that have demonstrated a commitment to improving and sustaining walkability and pedestrian safety through comprehensive programs, plans and policies.

For more information, please call/text 847-448-4311. For convenience, residents in Evanston may simply dial 3-1-1.