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December 11, 2018

11/28/2018 3:02:00 PM
The Traffic Guy hears ...

… that the City is changing its policy on street-sweeping parking infractions. The fine for parking inappropriately on street-sweeping days will be $75, with an additional penalty, $50, tacked on if the fine is not paid within 21 days. The good news, really for everyone, TG believes, is that there will be no more towing – hence, no more towing charges. So the illegal parker on street-sweeping days will have to pay $75 – or $125, if tardy – rather than the $165 it would have cost last year – $40 for the fine and $125 more for the towing.

… that the new Divvy bike stations are at the Levy Center, 300 Dodge Ave., the Morton Civic Center, 2100 Ridge Ave., and on Central Street at Lincolnwood Avenue, near Curt’s Café north and First Bank & Trust. This brings the total of Divvy bike stations to 14. Readers may recall that the City purchased the gently used (castoff?) stations and 30 bicycles for about $34,000 – about 20% of what they would have cost new. Does anyone know why Oak Park is shedding Divvy?  On the sustainable side, though, Divvy riders racked up more than 54,000 miles on trips originating in Evanston; 1,170 Evanston residents held Divvy memberships this year, the City reports, an increase of more than 12% over the previous year.

… that, just in time for one of the season’s first snows, the City completed its sale of rock/road salt to the two school districts. Each district purchases about 300 tons of salt, but neither has the capacity to store it all. The City’s “master salt order” includes salt for the schools.

… that the “Argo floats” – distributed throughout oceans all over the globe that profile heat and salinity from the water surface to a depth of 2,000 meters – have some serious news. Scott Denning, Professor of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University, reported recently that the Argo measurements show that about 93% of the global warming caused by burning carbon for fuel is felt as changes in ocean temperature, while only a very small amount of this warming occurs in the air.
 “The implication of faster ocean warming is that the effect of carbon dioxide on global warming is greater than we’d thought. We already knew that adding CO2 to the air was warming the world very rapidly. And the IPCC [International Planet Protection Convention] just warned in a special report that limiting global warming to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) above pre-industrial levels – a target that would avert many extreme impacts on humans and ecosystems – would require quickly reducing and eventually eliminating coal, oil and gas from the world energy supply. This study doesn’t change any of that, but it means we will need to eliminate fossil fuels even faster.”

From our readers: TG: This is a pic of another Evanston alley: – D. Bailey

From TG: What a stupendous line of doors. Thanks, Mr. Bailey. TG believes these are in an east-west alley just south of Noyes Street between Leonard and Ridge, near the Civic Center.

Here is the remainder of the letter from Evanston resident Chuck Cole, the first part of whose letter, printed in the Oct. 18 column, addressed some traffic issues and evoked some thoughtful, or hair-raising, responses:

TG: The westbound Emerson configuration that funnels drivers into a “straight ahead” lane that requires drivers too quickly, within probably less than 20 feet, swerve to the left to find the “straight ahead” lane that continues westbound.
A bizarre configuration.
Sheridan Road northbound near the campus where two car lanes are choked into one and where there are three traffic control lights that can be sending three different signals at the same time. New drivers and out-of-towners must come away from that stretch swearing.
The southbound Ridge/Green Bay confluence was once quite dangerous. A number of years ago it was reconfigured so that cars could not merge right next to each other and southbound Green Bay traffic could not cut across to the Church street shortcut at Clark. Now, it’s been “fixed” so that it’s more dangerous again. The merge of traffic streams can be terrifying and now cars can again quickly cut across traffic to the Clark street cutout. That change in configuration is not just potentially dangerous, it’s stupid.
From mid-block on Davis in front of the bank, look in the direction of the intersection at all the signs. This is an advertisement for distracted driving. Many of those signs are superfluous. Does no one think of these things?
The lane markers on Green Bay approaching McCormick are ambiguous and misleading. Should all traffic move left? What about those turning right?
Parking spaces are at more and more of a premium as street-cafes, Divvy bike docks and 20 minute meters proliferate. And we now have a drive-up mailbox on Davis and Sherman that no one with normal sized arms could use. Is the idea to have people just abandon cars and never drive? Not everyone can buy into that notion. Or is it simply to aggravate drivers so that they stay away?
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

The Traffic Guy thinks ...
… that the information from the “Argo floats” should mobilize Evanstonians – and Earthlings – to radically reduce their use of fossil fuels. Divvy barbs aside, biking is going to leave a gentler footprint than a big old gas-guzzling stomp.

… that Evanston continues to be slightly crazy with its ribbon-cuttings. One of the latest celebrations was that the Sheridan Road/Chicago Avenue Improvement Project was completed. Here’s what the City said about this 18-month, two-mile project: “Improvements included roadway resurfacing and reconstruction; construction of a new protected bike lane; curb and gutter replacement; traffic signal modernization; installation of new water main, storm sewer and drainage structures; new pavement markings and landscaping.” Perhaps the RT could invite local officials to its next tape-snipping, at about 9 a.m. on Dec. 13, when the bundles of fresh-off-the-presses papers arrive.

… that, with the holiday shopping season already in bloom, it behooves residents to shop, dine and find their entertainment in Evanston. If parking seems a little tricky, just remember that any inconvenience is a pretty small price to pay to keep Evanston businesses thriving.

Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, December 4, 2018
Comment by: Jack Hanna

Traffic Guy! I am 110% behind you with your keen observations. I feel like you've hi-jacked my thoughts! And I thank you if you did! Maybe you heard me complain loudly or you heard my horn blast when I'm traveling on Sheridan while the person in front of me decides to stop at every pedestrian walk way while there are no pedestrians around?!?!?! Evanston, FIX THAT! Trying to navigate through this mouse maze of a city, is now impossible. How can I look over my shoulder, watching out for bikers, while making a right turn while I make sure that I do not hit a pedestrian with their face buried and plugged in their iPhone who snuck into the crosswalk while I was focusing on making sure I don't hit a biker!?!?! (deep breath) It now takes me approximately 15-20 mins to get through this town whereas before, half that the the time. I have to take deep breathes and calm down before I drive through this jungle! You're right about the confused outta towners! I drove behind one yesterday causing a traffic jam because they didn't realize that they had a green light on Chicago and Clark. Nice move Evanston. IT DOESN'T WORK!!!! I get what you were trying to do with the bike lane but did you ever consider with all the high rises, you're adding to the the problem to this once lovely quaint town? Evanston with the rate you're going, you will be causing traffic jams that will mimic traffic on the Kennedy! Did you ever think long term? My guess is no! I could go on and on but the traffic guy has pretty much summed it up. And sadly, I feel the City of Evanston doesn't care as long as they get that big fat dollar in their pocket. I can't wait for the next election. VOTE THEM OUT! 😡

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2018
Comment by: Kathy Kovacic

With the City doing away with free parking on Sundays and raising meter rates, why should it "behoove" Evanston residents to shop in Evanston? Does the City Council think that we're all rich enough to subsidize the city while paying ridiculous sales taxes in Evanston? I don't know about you, but I'll shop outside of Evanston or online. I just don't have the money to make up for the City's financial incompetence. Maybe if the Council finds a competent City Manager and also stops penalizing the poorer residents, I'll change my mind, but until then, adios.

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