A protected, two-way bike lane along Chicago Avenue is on city planners’ wish list.

Sat Nagar, project manager of the Chicago Avenue Multimodal Corridor Improvements, presented an update on the proposal to the Evanston Preservation Commission at a Tuesday evening meeting.

Chicago Avenue Multimodal Corridor Improvement Project Manager Sat Nagar presents an update on the project to the Evanston Preservation Commission on May 9. Credit: Trent Brown

The project aims to improve safety and infrastructure for pedestrians and bikers on the Chicago Avenue right-of-way – which includes sidewalks, bike lanes, parking lanes and through lanes – from Davis Street all the way south to Howard Street.

Nagar said the goal is to make Chicago Avenue “more user-friendly” by improving the roadway, upgrading streetlights, smoothing sidewalks and creating two-way bike lanes protected from car traffic.

“From Howard [Street] to South [Boulevard], already there is an existing bike lane. All we are trying to do is create a protected bike lane on the east side, like what we have along Chicago [Avenue] north of Davis [Street],” Nagar said.

No cost estimate or funding yet

Nagar showed a list of other stakeholders who had received similar presentations, including the CTA, Northwestern University and the Main-Dempster Mile and Downtown Evanston organizations. The Preservation Commission received a presentation because the approved right-of-way overlaps the Evanston Lakeshore Historic District in three places.

The commission is the last group to review the update before the project can move to phase two, which involves drawing up engineering and construction plans.

Nagar was joined by Tim Gustafson, an associate vice president at Epstein Architecture, Engineering and Construction, which won a $467,000 contract for consulting and engineering services on the project. Gustafson presented the second half of the update to the commission.

A proposed reallocation of roadway space would see through lanes shrink by up to 7 feet to accommodate daily parking lanes and protected two-way bike lanes along the Chicago Avenue corridor. Credit: City of Evanston

To allow space for protected two-way bike lanes, the through lanes would be reduced in width from their current maximum of 17 feet down to 10 feet and be shifted slightly west, Gustafson said.

The reallocation of roadway space would also allow for improved parking options, he said. “Instead of only having parking one day a week and occasionally on holidays, this will actually allow you to park on one side of the street seven days a week,” Gustafson said.

Gustafson also noted two types of proposed streetlight designs, the LED Davit Arm and the Tallmadge, that would alternate along the Chicago Avenue corridor to improve nighttime lighting while remaining compatible with Evanston “visually.”

The LED Davit Arm and the Tallmadge are the two proposed streetlight designs that would alternate along the Chicago Avenue corridor. Credit: City of Evanston

“The Davit gets better light,” Gustafson said. “The Tallmadge is better looking.”

Nagar said in a Wednesday email that planners intend to develop a cost estimate for the Chicago Avenue project next year. The ultimate schedule for construction depends on funding. “We are looking at various grant funds,” he wrote.

The project page on the city website has more information on the improvements proposed for the Chicago Avenue corridor.

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  1. Wonderful! The lane on Chicago north of Davis is such a game changer. And then it…just ends. This will be great and here’s to more of this until we have a proper network of protected lanes!

  2. Problem number 1. 90% to 95% of drivers drive CARS, not bikes.
    Problem number 2 . Increased areas of conflict between these two classes of vehicles

    Solution: Have bikes use side streets. Benefit???? NO CAR TRAFFIC.

    1. ……that’s kind of the point of a protected bike lane. Limit conflict between two types of traffic.

  3. This looks good!
    It’s imperative that traffic signal system is also updated to smooth the flow of traffic. Otherwise the side streets parallel to Chicago Ave will have an additional number of drivers speeding though trying to bypass the traffic congestion on Chicago.

  4. This is an extraordinary opportunity for Evanston to become a regional leader in bicycle and pedestrian safety. I have ridden my bike along Chicago Avenue to Clark Street in Chicago and the current configuration is not safe. Under this proposal, protected bike lanes will go from Howard Street to Wilmette, traversing the whole of Evanston. Let’s do this!

  5. Fantastic project that would be truly transformative for accessibility and safety along this corridor!