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October 18, 2018

9/19/2018 2:35:00 PM
The Traffic Guy hears ...
These newer signs depict bicyclers’ signals. The former way of signaling involved only the use of one hand; now the biker can point in the direction her or she intends to go.Photo from Sue Dietterle
These newer signs depict bicyclers’ signals. The former way of signaling involved only the use of one hand; now the biker can point in the direction her or she intends to go.
Photo from Sue Dietterle

…that the annual Cats and Kits pep rally took place in the new Fountain Square on Sept. 13. Imagine kids romping in the new fountain, public space functioning at its finest! Well, perhaps next year. The centerpiece of the new $7 million Fountain Square, the fountain, still does not work. Maybe in time for the Holiday Tree lighting, City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz told the First Ward at a meeting last week.

…that the Northwestern football parking program has begun. One single strip of parking along the Metra tracks, complete with parking attendants collecting $40 per space. The original idea, on-street parking for $40 per space using the City’s parking app, was shot down by affected neighbors. The program will be evaluated at the end of the season to see how it worked, and how much money it raised. Perhaps next year an expanded proposal will return to Council, along with the aforementioned neighbors.

…that the EPD’s Labor  Day “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” initiative resulted in two DUI arrests. Well done Evanston drivers!  Drinkers apparently walked or took ride shares and taxis over the long holiday weekend. Oh, wait  – the initiative also pulled in 36 seat belt citations, 27 cell phone users or other distracted drivers, 21 speeders and 15 other citations. “The traffic initiative might be over but EPD’s Traffic Unit makes roadway safety a priority everyday,” said Traffic Unit Sergeant Tray Williams in a City press release. Get that, Evanston drivers? Safety first.

…that construction rages on. The water vault at the former Shore School site at Church and the canal is well under way. Also, the Albion project at Sherman and Grove continues on schedule.

…that climate change may not exist according to certain orange-hued Washington residents, but it is being felt here in town. The statewide average temperature was 74.9 degrees in August, up 1.3 degrees from what used to be normal. Rain increased as well, up 1.66 inches to 5.25 inches in August. Overall this summer, temperatures were 1.4 degrees over the old normal. Reports of a government initiative to change from the Fahrenheit scale to a new “Inhofe scale,” so 97 degrees actually looks like 80, could not be confirmed.

…that two pedestrians were recently hit by cars in the area. One, near Howard Street and Chicago Avenue, was killed on Aug. 29 by a hit-and-run driver. The driver later turned himself in and faces charges in Chicago. That same day, another pedestrian was hit when emerging from between two parked cars near Dempster Street and Chicago Avenue. No charges were filed.

…that gas prices are shooting up, 4.1 cents per gallon in September according to Gas Buddy. The average gallon now runs $3.05, up from $2.79 in 2017. Gas prices show no rhyme or reason, though – in 2013, the average stood at $3.84; in 2016 $2.45. Seems another reason to consider rideshare… or better yet, biking.

…that, speaking of bicycles, “Bike the Ridge” returns Sept. 30. Ridge will be closed to vehicular traffic between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. and turned over to bikes, scooters, walkers, skates – and whatever that contraption is that Alderman Ann Rainey pedals every year.
It is the only day of the year bikes are permitted on Ridge Avenue. Legally.
Among readers, the bicycle debate rages on, with or without TG’s participation.

From Our Readers:
TG: As a “bike enthusiast,” thank you for reporting on Evanston’s efforts to find a balance between different users on our streets. In response to Dan Lowman, you say that “tragic accidents,” (actually, avoidable crashes would be a better description) that happen 23 miles away should not dictate our policies. Fine. How about the three bicycle deaths since 2011, right here in Evanston? You say that there are bad drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians, but fail to mention there is bad road design also. All three of those deaths could have been prevented by balanced road design. In all three cases the City did an admirable job of improving the balance, even over the strenuous objections of car enthusiasts.
Here in Evanston, we are far, far from a balance between cars and other users.  Case in point: as the City begins redesigning Main near Chicago, I have been repeatedly told that there can be no special accommodation for cyclists, because it would involve giving up parking. As long as a parked car is more sacred than a person on a bike, we are profoundly imbalanced.  – John Hennelly

From TG: Respectfully, a balance has to include parking for cars – just ask the businesses along Chicago Avenue and Main Street needing parking for customers in order to survive. Parking includes bike racks, by the way.

 TG: When did the bike rider’s signal for a RIGHT TURN change? I was taught (albeit five decades ago) to signal turns and stops only with the LEFT arm. A right turn was indicated by the left arm out, with elbow bent at 90º and hand pointing up.
The sign [above] is on Oakton Street at McCormick Boulevard. Is this how bicyclists signal a right turn these days? Is this now the national standard? Thanks for any insight.  – Sue Dietterle

From TG: There are several of these signs around town, and they have been up for a few years now. It seems the City and Northwestern put their heads together and determined the old signals needed to change. The change does not appear to have caught on, as TG has never observed anyone using the “stop” signal.

TG: So how are cars supposed to use the drop box in front of the Evanston Post Office, now that the bollards [pictured below] are blocking the way?  – Ken Sax

From TG: Ken raises an important question. A little intergovernmental cooperation goes a long way sometimes. Perhaps a bit more thought could have gone into design in this case.

The Traffic Guy Thinks...
...that the bewitching season is upon us, a chill is in the air, footballs fly on Saturday and Sunday, and ghouls and ghosts lurk right around the corner. Traditionally, it is the time that the City gets down to business and plans the fiscal year, including annual road construction projects.
This year feels like a complete crapshoot. Readers, how do you feel about the state of Evanston today? Let the TG know.



Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, September 27, 2018
Comment by: Jean SmilingCoyote

I've biked through Chicago & Main many times never felt need for "special accommodations" - traffic isn't heavy enough. I do use hand signals, but prefer to use my left hand even for right turns. It might be easier for car drivers to notice, since they're also on the left side of the vehicle. I'm left-handed, so it's easier also the right hand brake is on the rear wheel, which is safer than braking only the front wheel. You won't see me using hand signals for months, due to medical reasons.

Posted: Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Comment by: Dan Lowman

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration updated the hand signals to include an alternate signal for the right turn. The original signals with only the left arm were meant for car drivers using the driver's side window. The right arm signal is generally clearer for people driving in cars to understand and easier for people riding bikes to remember. From the NHTSA: https://www.nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.dot.gov/files/8009-handsignals.pdf

Evanston ordinances encourage the use of hand signals by people on bikes, but also note they need not be used if doing so impedes the safe operation of the bike--it's not easy to ride with one hand if you're going over potholes, making a sharp turn, or navigating a bike lane obstruction.




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