… that non-gas-powered transportation is in the news these days, with National Drive Electric Week last week, World Car-Free Day today and Bike the Ridge on Sunday. World Car Free Day is celebrated annually across the globe with the goal of reducing the number of cars on the streets. The RTA, the CTA, Metra and PACE encourage people who do not regularly take public transportation to “try transit.” “Car Free Day is about more than taking public transportation one day of the year,” said Leanne Redden, Executive Director of the RTA. “It’s a time to think about the impact of personal vehicles on the environment, individual health, traffic congestion, and more.” Last year CTA’s ridership reached an all-time high, with more than 500 million bus and rail rides. Metra provided more than 80 million rides. Last Sunday on Central Street there was an electric car rally, organized here by local resident Tracy Ahr.
And only non-motorized vehicles are allowed at the annual Bike the Ridge, scheduled this year for 9 a.m. -1 p.m. on Sept. 25 on Ridge between Howard and Church. Children under age 18 are required to wear bike helmets, per the City’s ordinance, and they are encouraged to decorate their bicycles for the ride. No skateboards are allowed, and pedestrians are asked to stay on the sidewalks. There will be a lot of fun activities in front of the Ridgeville Park field house: live music featuring the Evanston School of Rock; bike registration, repairs and decorating; and free bike helmets while supplies last. Lunch and treats may be purchased from a variety of food trucks.
… that Evanston took part in National Drive Electric Week with an Electric Car Rally on Sept. 18 at the parking lot at 2200 Central St. Owners of electric vehicles,
including models made by Nissan, Tesla, and BMWi3, gathered to highlight the fun,
clean-air benefits, and cost savings of electric cars. The event was one of more than 200 across the country where electric vehicle owners and their neighbors held electric car parades, “tailpipe-free” tailgate parties, recognition of leaders promoting electric vehicles, and launches of new public electric vehicle charging stations. Plug in America, the Sierra Club and the Electric Auto Association are national organizers.
… that City Council approved the purchase of a “Fleet Telematics/Automatic Vehicle Locator” from Verizon Staff at a one-time cost of $20,108 and a monthly fee of $3,165 for the AVL service. The system can do a lot of cool things, but Big Brother is here. Locators and sensors will be placed on 167 City vehicles, including recycling trucks, street sweepers, parking enforcement and other vehicles, and will report data showing where the vehicles are located, their speed, their mechanical operation, onboard diagnostics, and vehicle performance. The sensors will also be able to report on components of the vehicle, such as salt spreaders and snow plows. The data on components will report on whether the snow plow is in the up or down position and if the salt spreader is on or off. Possible uses for this include a real-time snow plow locator map. Also, because the system can recreate routes taken by vehicles at any point in time, street sweeping and other activities can be verified. The City also says it will use the data to see which vehicles are “fully utilized” to save fuel costs by improving routes, monitoring speed and reducing idle time. TG is not sure what that means – reducing the time the vehicles are idle or the time they are idling. ’Course the vehicles should not be idling; if they are not in use, they should be turned off. The onboard diagnostics system will notify the City’s Fleet Services of a problem with a vehicle before it does long-term damage. TG is thinking of buying one of these systems and leasing out the trackers to helicopter parents.
… that the City approved a five-year contract with North Shore Towing effective Oct. 1, 2016 – Sept. 30, 2021. Among other things, the new contract provides that North Shore Towing will do all the towing of vehicles for street cleaning and snow removal. In the first year, the towing fee will be $145 for a vehicle, and storage charges will be $10 for 0-3 hours, $30 for 3-12 hours, and $45 for 12-24 hours. At these rates, people would think their cars are being stored in a garage or at least on a paved parking lot. Guess again.
… that seniors and persons with a disability will receive a 50% discount off the tax they pay for the privilege of owning a vehicle in town if they purchase the vehicle or move to the City after July 1. Due to a quirk in the law, they did not receive a 50% discount after July 1, even though all other residents did receive one.
… that the West Village Business Association requested $2,200 from the City to purchase seven wood benches to be installed on sidewalks around the neighborhood. Because of concerns about durability, maintainability, and consistency with design aesthetics, City staff upped the amount but changed the product, recommending that $3,000 in funding be approved for the purchase and installation of two of the new spiffy standardized benches, rather than the seven wood benches requested. Council approved.
… that the City started work last week on the Greenwood Street and Lee Street beach houses, including roof replacement, window and door replacements, restroom renovations, electrical and plumbing work, and other miscellaneous repairs. The beach houses will be closed during construction, but the jogging/walking paths can be used.
… that in response to an uproar of complaints about the bike lanes on Dodge Avenue, City Council decided to remove the bollards that make the boundary line between the parking lane and the bike lane. The rationale is this will create an extra 18 inches of space for someone – biker or parker, whoever gets there first.
… that the Evanston Police Department made three drunk-driving arrests during the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” Labor Day crackdown. The Police Department publicized the crackdown in advance. What are people thinking? In addition, police issued the following citations during the crackdown: 68 seat-belt citations; 3 failure-to-restrain child citations; 21 cellular phone citations; 1 possession of open alcohol violation; 5 operation-of -vehicle-with-no-valid-insurance citations; 7 speeding citations; 1 no valid driver’s license violation; and 1 other traffic-related citation. The crackdown was part of the Statewide “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” and “Click It or Ticket” campaigns, and was made possible by federal highway safety funds through the Illinois Department of Transportation.
… that automakers are devising ways to reduce the weight of vehicles to improve fuel economy. The 2017 GMC Acadia sport utility vehicle is 700 pounds lighter than the vehicle it replaces and reportedly can go 23 miles per gallon versus the prior model’s 18. GMC has done this by using adhesives similar to those used in the making of airplanes to hold steel parts together, rather than riveting or welding them. Because the bonds are better, GMC is also able to use thinner steel. By 2025 automakers are required to achieve 54.5 miles per gallon for the fleet of vehicles they sell.
… that a bicyclist was injured last week after colliding with a vehicle at Sheridan and Lincoln. The woman was riding northbound on a sidewalk, and when she crossed the street her bicycle hit the front of the vehicle. The woman reportedly suffered minor injuries. The driver of the vehicle was cited for failure to yield when approaching an intersection. Be careful folks.
The Traffic Guy thinks …
… that the Bike the Ridge rule banning motorized traffic should be relaxed so folks in electric wheelchairs can enjoy the day.
… that, in honor of Banned Books Week, which begins on Monday, maybe people could populate the Little Free Libraries around town with “challenge” books. A list of this year’s challenged books is in the Odds & Ends section of this paper. But there are a lot of challenged and banned books, many of them, TG hazards, on Evanstonians’ bookshelves. The folks here at the RoundTable are doing a readout of “Fahrenheit 451,” not banned but challenging.