Well, here are some questions: “What is a ‘dog?’” “What does ‘all’ mean?”RoundTable photo

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… that Evanston benefitted briefly from last month’s hotel workers strike in Chicago. Crews from the television show “Empire” stayed here.

… that fall is for sure in hearts and spirits: graying skies, turning leaves, planting and harvesting. Rotarians continue their tree-planting in various Evanston parks, and the City will plant 284 trees. In the Ladd Arboretum, volunteers planted 800 native plants near the Bridge Street Bridge and the Ecology Center. The gardens at the Frances Willard House Museum are being retro-fitted with historic landscaping. Speaking of the Willard House Museum, it made it almost to the top – that is, number 2 – of the Chicago Tribune’s Bicentennial Bucket list – 20 things to see that are linked to influential Illinoisans.

… that early-morning and late-evening walkers routinely come across skunks these days.

… that the City will hire Teska Associates for landscape and architectural engineering services for Garden Park in southeast Evanston. A contract for below-ground services – in this case cured-in-place sewer pipe rehabilitation – will go to Kenny Construction of Northbrook.  

… that gasoline prices fell about 8 cents per gallon last week, averaging about $3.11 earlier this month, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 1,437 stations in Chicago. This compares with the national average that has increased 2.2 cents per gallon versus last week to $2.91/per gallon, according to GasBuddy. But, looking at last year, GasBuddy found these recent prices are 52.7 cents per gallon higher than a year ago and are 5.1 cents per gallon higher than a month ago. Echoing the Tin Man in “The Wizard of Oz,” Patrick DeHann, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy said, “Hold your breath – it may get worse before it gets better.”

… that, somewhat tangential to gasoline prices, the City and the CTA are finalizing a joint plan to modernize the CTA’s Purple Line “with a focus on support for the Davis Street CTA station,” although stations that lack ADA access will have top priority.  The City will put in $500,000 from the Washington National tax-increment financing (TIF) district, which is set to expire this year.

… that the City has made a few parking changes. The U.S. Postal Service will continue parking its vehicles in the Maple Avenue garage. Readers may have noticed that lately the Postal Service trucks are no longer on the lowest floor but a few floors higher. The lease of the 54 spaces should net the City about $71,00 per year. The City just granted a favor to Northwestern students who have cars around campus by modifying the number of parking spaces required by
the University. The reason for the change,  according to the City, is that students living off campus are or at least have been double-counted, both as “residents” and as “students,” unnecessarily, the City says, increasing the number of spaces required under the City’s zoning code. As for parking meters, the City is leasing to own 80 Cale WebTerminal pay stations to replace some old parking meters around town. This is a $1.1 million contract, to be paid monthly over a five-year period.

… that a Kilwin’s Chocolates is coming to 1724 Sherman Ave., and a brew pub, Double Clutch, to 2119-2125 Ashland Ave. Chocolate-lovers may already be familiar with Kilwin’s, a chain of small shops that is working its way south from Michigan and Wisconsin. Welcome to Evanston. Double Clutch on Ashland will be, in addition to a brew pub, an event space and a place to display classic cars – hence, most likely, the name.

From our readers TG: I would like to propose an award to Evanston for their continuing and successful efforts at making their town among the most car-unfriendly cities in America. I understand that part of the problem is the result of the continuing war between bikers and drivers. But the confusion and dangerous conditions that have been created in several places are apparently the work of professional traffic engineers, something that boggles the mind.
Presumably, our taxes hired these people. In general, our downtown area is a disastrous combination of mistakes. It’s hard to categorize the problems, but in general they represent either 1) the needs for more control, better signage, and/or better lane markings, 2) dangerous and confusing lane configurations, 3) complex and overly signed and regulated configurations, and 4) simply unwelcoming and unfriendly conditions, or a combination of several of these. A brief list:
• Westbound Davis street east of Sheridan/Forest. A blind corner. Should be only right turn and should be controlled by flashing lights or three-way stop sign. Or perhaps it should be one-way east.
• There should be no right turn on red eastbound on Church at Chicago. There are pedestrians, buses, cars, and bikes traveling from all directions. Very dangerous.
• The bike lane configuration on Davis between Chicago and Orrington is dangerous, particularly for drivers attempting to turn into the bank parking lot. Drivers can’t be expected to see fast bikers on that inside lane.
• At Chicago and Davis, there are bike lanes diagonally (!) across the intersection, three types of traffic lights and printed signs that are confusing (e.g. “Bikers, use right lane.” Where is the right lane that bikers are supposed to use?) Are all the bike lanes really one way? Where do bikers learn that one street is for westbound bike traffic and one is for eastbound? How are they supposed to know this?
• On Davis street from Orrington to Benson, two car lanes turn into four with no lane markers and no overhead signage. There’s also no sign telling drivers which lane will become right turn only or left turn only lanes, which does happen within one block of travel.

There are many more instances but these will suffice. Add to these the terrible conditions of many of the roadways and intersections and you have a city that appears to have made a habit of selecting the worst possible solutions to a variety of (some very questionable) problems. As resident drivers, many of us have learned to navigate with more and more unreasonable care and caution, head on a swivel, although that should not be a necessity. Driving in town has become more dangerous and challenging. That should also not be a necessity. Maybe someday the City will start making better decisions regarding the roads and will commit to communicating better to pedestrians, bikers and drivers.  – Chuck Cole

From TG: Wow, Mr. Cole. You covered a lot of problems in the eastern part of Evanston – so many, in fact, that TG held more than half for next time. TG hopes some of these can be smoothed over or worked out. TG is eager to learn what you see when you venture to Asbury and beyond.

The Traffic Guy thinks …
… that the Twiggs Park sign (pictured above) in is rather quizzical sign.

… that, since Oak Park is ahead of Evanston in many respects, it would have been nice if City Council had decided not to purchase three of its cast-off Divvy bike stations but instead have waited a few months to see if the dockless-bike systems could be straightened up a bit. Readers may know that dockless bikes are irritating people in tony Georgetown and in Seattle. Some say the users are careless, have parked the bikes in so-called unacceptable places, nicked cars or caused even greater problems. It seems, though, that those are problems with the users, not with the system. Maybe Georgetown and Seattle were the betas, the soft openings, the trial spins. Meanwhile, the City says the new Divvy stations will not cost the taxpayers anything. TG awaits proof.