… that as part of national Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the Evanston Police Department is partnering with the Illinois Department of Transportation to implement Drop it and Drive, an initiative “to remind motorists that if they drive with a phone in one hand, they can expect a ticket in the other.”
Texting while driving distracts the driver visually, manually and cognitively, putting everyone on the road at risk. Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent of driving blind at 55 mph for the length of an entire football field.
Motorists can expect to see increased patrols and enforcement zones across Illinois as part of the April 16-30 distracted driving enforcement. The Evanston Police Department will be ticketing drivers who text or use their cellphones while driving.
… that the company SmartGrowthAmerica ranked Evanston second in the state and among the best in the nation for its “complete streets” endeavors. Complete streets are designed to increase the livability of communities by enabling people of all ages and capabilities to safely use all modes of transportation. In 2017, the City updated its policy, it says, “to provide an implementation framework and metrics to ensure that complete streets principles are incorporated during planning, design and construction phases for all projects involving rights-of-way and public spaces.” Got that? The City will take into consideration that people of varying ages and abilities and with different modes of transportation use Evanston streets.
… that, speaking of streets, the City is interested in learning how bright residents want their streets to be. Of course, the City plans to keep the Tallmadge lights beloved by many, if not most. To help residents get a feel for the different levels available, the City has replaced street light bulbs with various wattage LED lights on Seward from Dodge to Wesley; Thayer from Central Park to Lawndale and Forest from Keeney to Kedzie. So residents are encouraged to check these out and then take a survey before May 5. The survey can be found at surveymonkey.com/r/streetlightplan. It is also available by calling 311 or by visiting the information desk in the lobby of the Civic Center’s lobby information desk, the main Evanston Public Library, Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center, Robert Crown Center, Levy Center, and the Chandler-Newberger Center.
… that the construction map on the City’s website shows only 10 projects at present. Some of these are listed “no information available,” and a couple are, well, projected to be completed by early summer: the Fountain Square streetscape by the end of May and the Gibbs-Morrison patio by the end of June.
… that the City is about to issue $250,000 in general obligation (GO) bonds – which are generally issued to fund capital expenses – to fund what looks like an operational expense: hiring Infrastructure Management Services of Rolling Meadows to evaluate the condition of Evanston’s street and manage assets on rights-of-way. Light poles, grass and other plantings, “No Parking” and other signs, TG thinks, might be among those assets.
… that ospreys have returned to some Cook County Forest Preserves, heralding spring, the Forest Preserve District says, or just goading folks into believing that warmer weather and flowers are on the way.
… that the City will be hiring out services to spruce up the streets: Patriot Pavement Maintenance of Des Plaines will receive $80,000 to continue its crack-sealing services for local streets. Crews from Precision Pavement Markings, Inc. of Elgin will continue to stripe and otherwise mark the necessary lanes, crossing, etc., in the streets. TG notes that the City still has not acted upon TG’s suggestion to use different colored markings in front of some local institutions – blue and or orange at Evanston Township High School; school colors at each District 65 school, blue and green at the Morton Civic Center, and, of course, purple on Sheridan Road.
… that some new rides are coming to the City’s fleet: a $26,000 Toro Groundmaster riding mower from Reinders of Franklin Park; a $28,500 Ford SUV from Currie Motors of Frankfort, to be outfitted with lights, sirens and other necessary police equipment by Harvey Communications of Lake Bluff; an ambulance for the Fire Department – cost about $300,000 – from Foster Coach Sales of Sterling; and, for the Public Works Agency, three vehicles, one from Monroe Truck Equipment of Monroe, Wis., for $104,000, one from JX Peterbilt for $137,000 and one from National Fleet Auto Group for $171,000.
…that, speaking of vehicles, which of course need fuel, GasBuddy.com reports that in early April average retail gasoline prices in Chicago rose 2.4 cents per gallon, averaging $2.90 per gallon, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 1,437 gas outlets in Chicago. This compares with the national average that fell 0.6 cents per gallon during that same time to $2.65, according to GasBuddy.com. Oil prices were hit hard, as were several aspects of the U.S. economy, over concern about a possible trade war between the U.S. and China, said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. “While the pause button may be hit for the time being on the spring surge, it is still likely we’ll see prices advance again soon,” he said.
… that, from the fuel-conservation side, legislators in Springfield may soon consider HB 5143, a bill that would add the Dutch Reach method to Illinois’ Rules of the Road manual and add bike safety questions to the state driver’s license exam. The Dutch Reach rquires drivers and passenger to use their far hand and reach across their body to open car doors after parallel parking, forcing people to look back for approaching cyclists and other traffic before exiting the car. Research shows it makes drivers and passengers more aware of approaching cyclists, helping prevent crashes and save lives. The Illinois Department of Transportation data shows dooring crashes are on the rise across the state, especially in urban areas. In 2015, there were more than 300 reported dooring crashes in Chicago alone – a 50% increase over the previous year. Another safety bill (House Bill 4799) would make biking and walking education a requirement in Illinois schools. The Bike Walk Education in Schools Act clarifies the existing traffic safety K-8 school curriculum requirement to specifically include biking and walking safety. Illinois crash data shows nearly five children are hit by drivers every day while walking or biking within one block of a school.
The Traffic Guy thinks …
… that, rather than issuing general obligation bonds to hire an outside consultant to learn the condition of Evanston streets, the City could consider hiring a bunch of kids with skateboards to go up and down the streets and report bumps, potholes, rough patches and the like. Could be a lot cheaper and a lot more accurate than hiring the outside consultant.
… that Earth Day, or at least, “clean up your corner of the Earth” day is April 21. Earth Day should also be a day when folks take affirmative preventive – maybe pre-emptive – steps to stop this planet from burning up, not just cleaning up the messes they created over the winter.