We are lucky to live in Evanston, where residents have walking and bikeable access to grocery stores, schools, local commercial districts, our beautiful parks, the lakefront and so much more.
Evanston officials are also in a unique position to grant my family a $30,000 “tax cut” by letting us maintain a single-car household. The average used car price in Illinois hovers around $35,000, and new vehicle prices are close to $50,000. But you can pick up a commuter bike for under $600, or better yet for families a decent cargo e-bike now costs as little as $2,000.
City officials just need to give bikers, like every road user, their rightful allocation of space. Allow bikes to be a mode of safe and efficient transportation without being in the way of cars.
We have today an incomplete and hazardous road network with faded bike lanes that disappear at intersections and streets designed to dangerously force bikes to share lanes with cars, trucks and buses.
A universal and protected bike lane network in Evanston would give residents an affordable means of accessibility. We have bits and pieces of the biking infrastructure – on stretches of Davis Street, Church Street, Chicago Avenue and Dodge Avenue – that’s needed. It will be the e-bike (not EV cars) that can usher in a new era of mobility across Evanston.
How to make it possible
Let’s start by connecting our schools, parks and places of community. Evanston’s Climate Action and Resilience Plan identifies the study and creation of bike corridors for our schools. Getting kids out of cars and onto bikes would have tremendous transportation cost savings, plus environmental, health and community benefits.
In Portland, the “bike bus” has inspired young and old to enjoy the freedom of biking. As summer approaches, it would be awesome to have more movies in the park across Evanston, packed with families coming on bikes, looking to enjoy community as well as local food and drink, with the comfort of riding home safely.
The time is now to capture federal programs available to fund protected bike lanes. The city’s Complete Streets policy makes the costs of bike lanes affordable. I’m sure bikers would pay a reasonable wheel tax if they were provided dedicated lanes of space.
Cars are a high price to pay for mobility in America, with traffic congestion, distracted driving, road rage, greenhouse gas emissions and the about 40,000 fatalities on U.S. roads every year.
Evanston deserves a network of protected bicycle lanes. It can be our superpower to address climate change, ease traffic congestion, promote healthy living, foster community engagement and economic growth.
Stark is an Evanston resident with a background in urban planning, government and technology. He can be reached at: email@example.com.
That’s only the beginning of the savings. Our pockets are picked to pay to maintain cheap parking spaces in Evanston — one of the least-profitable uses of urban space. Any other use of that real estate such as sidewalk seating for restaurants or bike lanes to increase customer traffic provides much higher returns for the city, and can help to reduce the tax burden on residents. We need to reduce on-street parking and convert that space to useful purposes.
Yes yes yes! I tend to ride on the sidewalk because as an elder I cannot afford to get doored or knocked off my bike. A few years ago I broke a hip in a bike accident. It took awhile to recover. I don’t ride fast. I’m careful but some drivers seem way too distracted to watch out for me.
I hope the city does this please. It’s good for the earth and good for us.
A thousand times yes! Thanks this proposal. You have outlined so many great benefits. I also love to think of the freedom of movement protected lanes could give teens for getting to school. And if we can reduce the number of cars we need less parking. Which frees up room for bike lanes and housing, brings down the cost of building apartments, etc.
(I have also noticed that Evanstonians oppose a lot of projects (housing, daycares, etc) bc of worries about traffic. Anything we can do to facilitate safe cycling would help to alleviate those concerns.)
Well-designed route structure, meeting the needs of those most likely to be able to use a bike for intra-Evanston transportation. As a walker and a driver, I would love to see this. As a resident with a kid who bicycles a lot, I know what a difference this would make.
Evanston can start by adequately funding a truly functional Divvy bike network. Currently there are so few stations, the system is barely viable. In Chicago, there are Divvy stations situated very few blocks throughout the city, which has generated strong usage. Evanston has only a handful of stations, which are spread so widely apart that users must walk too far for access (and when bikes are not available at a given station, there are no other viable station options). Not long ago, the city approved moving an existing Divvy station away from the Trader Joe’s/Jewel location on Chicago Ave. into a SW neighborhood. That neighborhood certainly needed a station, but now there’s a huge service gap in an important commercial sector of the city’s SE corner. Instead of moving the station, the city should have ADDED at least one new station–and probably another six or seven.
Great idea to improve divvy coverage! (And if only divvy’s fleet included cargo bikes or even decent baskets.) But we really need more protected lanes too. So many more ppl would be comfortable biking.
This is spot on. A progressive city like Evanston should be leading the way when it comes to establishing a network of protected bike lanes, instead of the current patchwork the city currently has. Ebikes are absolutely game changing in getting people out of cars, and the city should be doing everything they can to establish protected bike lanes to encourage bike/ebike use. Slapping some paint on the road and calling it a bike lane is not enough….we need protected lanes separate from cars.
A city-wide network of protected bike lanes would reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality, eliminate dangerous conflicts between road users, decrease carbon emissions, and promote physically active behaviors for all ages and abilities. This should be a top priority for Evanston in the coming years.
Yes!! More protected bike lanes in Evanston and a tax credit for only having one car would be a dream. Set the bike lanes up to go to new local third spaces once we get rid of single family zoning and Evanston will be a blueprint of how to make suburbs sustainable in the face of climate change.