… that the City is planning to swap 17,800 square feet of land – less than half an acre – with Pace Suburban Bus Service in southwest Evanston in order to accommodate additional parking for Pace at 2222 Oakton and Quad Indoor Sports, 2454 Oakton. Quad will use 17,800 square feet of existing Pace, gaining 45 parking spaces, one of which will be ADA-accessible. Pace will get the same amount of City property and will use it for 48 new parking spaces, including one ADA and 50 exterior bus spaces. Pace will also relocate its drive, using some of this new space and paving over some of the detention basin there. Although Quad Sports is said to be the beneficiary of the new parking spaces, in fact they will be City-owned and fitted with parking meters. This could be very handy not only for Quad Sports but also for potential purchasers of the former recycling center, just a few hundred yards to the east.
… that, speaking of swapping, Youth & Opportunity United (Y.O.U.) will allocate eight spaces in its 52-space parking lot on the southeast corner of Church Street and Dodge Avenue for use by patrons of Gibbs-Morrison Cultural Center and other businesses in the area, as well as City employees, volunteers, contractors, etc. In exchange, the City will provide four annual clean-ups to remove weeds and trim the plant material on the perimeter of the parking lot, snow removal from the parking lot and surrounding sidewalk, and the use of Gibbs Morrison Cultural Center three times per year.
… that, also in the west-central section of the City, the Weissbourd-Holmes Family Focus building, 2010 Dewey, formerly Foster School, is now an Evanston landmark.
… and, speaking of honorifics, the City has designated the section of Pitner Avenue between Dempster and Greenwood Streets “Pierre Jean-Paul Way.” Mr. Jean-Paul, who resides at 1341 Pitner Ave., came to Evanston from Haiti in the 1950s. In the 1980s, his business, JP Limousine Services, chauffeured politicians, dignitaries, university staff and business professionals. The City is honoring Mr. Jean-Paul both for his entrepreneurial spirit and for the aid he provided to more than 150 Haitian immigrants, “assisting them with food, shelter, and other means to make the transition easier to life in the United States.”
… that the City finalized its agreement with the CTA for modernization of the Evanston section of the Purple Line. The City will use $500,000 from the Washington National tax-increment financing (TIF) district, which is set to expire at the end of this year.
… that Main Street between Maple and Hinman Avenues will get a facelift in the next few months, with improved ADA access, sidewalks, streetscape and modernized traffic signals at Sherman Avenue. Patrick Engineering of Chicago will perform initial surveys and analyses of the condition of the street and the intensity of its usage, e.g., by vehicles, pedestrians and bikes.
… that School District 65 is a proponent here of the Safe Routes to Schools program, which encourages families to walk or bike to schools, easing the congestion (traffic and air both) from vehicles dropping kids off. The City is applying for $250,000 from the Illinois Department of Transportation to help create those safe routes and ensure ADA-accessibility around … that gasoline prices fell almost 9 cents per gallon last week, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 1,437 stations in Chicago. This compares with the national average that fell 4.7 cents per gallon during that same time.
… that EarthSky.org reports that Earth’s shadow can be seen in both the morning and evening skies – in the direction opposite to the sun. The shadow is described as a blue-grey darkness, darker than the twilight sky. The pink band above the shadow – in the east after sunset, or west before dawn – is called the Belt of Venus. And, yes, according to EarthSky, it is possible to see the shadow even from cities.
From our readers: TG: We live in the neighborhood where Tag’s recently added tables for outdoor seating. There are three tables, and one of the tables intrudes on the sidewalk, right where people walk. It is a narrow sidewalk. Central has several cafés and restaurants with outdoor seating, and no one else stuck a table out there to block the sidewalk like Tag’s. We brought this to someone’s attention at Tag’s, whose response was to say that the City approved this layout. We will not use Tag’s café. We choose other Central Street cafés where they are considerate of people walking. Besides, who wants to sit in the middle of a pedestrian walkway? – Leslie A.
From TG: One could also blame the City for granting – for a charge of course – a private business the use of a public walkway, in this case, you indicate the bakery received too much of a public walkway.
TG: In your column of Oct. 18, Mr. Chuck Cole listed several frustrations of driving in downtown Evanston, and wrote that “part of the problem is the result of the continuing war between bikers and drivers.”
We won’t quibble with Mr. Cole’s facts. Many of his observations – about difficult intersections at Sheridan and Davis, Chicago and Church, and Chicago and Davis, and about problematic traffic flow on Davis – are on target. And we won’t quibble with Mr. Cole’s points about compromised safety.
But we do quibble with the argument that a cyclist-driver “war” is the cause, and with the suggestion that cyclist accommodation goes too far, and, especially, with the conclusion that the chief goal of traffic engineering is to make driving as easy as possible.
Several of the problems that Mr. Cole itemizes are rooted not in cyclist-driver friction, but in the abundance of cars in the downtown area. A healthier downtown is not one with many cars moving swiftly. A healthy downtown is one with fewer cars, all moving calmly, and with more travelers using public transit, biking, and walking. This is not to say that no one needs to drive downtown. It is to say that many need not do so.
For downtown Evanston to become less car-centric will not be easy. The effort will inevitably produce inconvenience. But if we focus on maximizing convenience we invite much tougher problems than inconvenience. – John Hennelly and Jeff Balch
From TG: Thank you, Mr. Hennelly and Mr. Balch. Your points are well-taken, that the shift from cars as the top mode of transportation will not be an easy one. Evanstonians will just have to meet the challenge. Stay tuned for more of Mr. Cole’s observations about what some of these challenges are.
The Traffic Guy thinks …
… that as many folks as possible should try to attend the Nov. 1 meeting on the City’s streetlight master plan. It’s in the Parasol Room of the Civic Center and the City has promised to develop a plan that “identifies ways to meet the community’s future street lighting needs in a manner that reflects the community’s values as well as the context of the surrounding built and natural environments.” In other words – how bright do residents want their street lights to be? TG applauds the dark-sky lighting in several of the parks and hopes that the plan will minimize light pollution while maximizing safety. Folks who can’t make the meeting can check out cityofevanston.org/streetlight.
… Don’t forget to fall back (your clocks) on Sunday.