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December 10, 2018

11/14/2018 4:57:00 PM
The Traffic Guy hears ...

… that these gray autumn days make the gold, yellow and red leaves seem even brighter by comparison. But, guess what? Bryan A. Hanson, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at DePauw University who studies plant pigments, says the colors were there all long. In spring and summer the leaves are deep green because of the chlorophyll but the vivid colors are hidden, according to a recent post in Earthsky.org. Prof. Hanson found that in the fall, “trees break down the green pigments and nutrients stored in their leaves. The nutrients are shuttled into the tree’s roots for reuse in the spring. It’s then that the trees take on their autumn hues. As leaves lose their chlorophyll, other pigments become visible to the human eye. Some tree leaves turn mostly brown, indicating that all pigments are gone,” according to the post.

… that, even though a milder-than-normal winter is predicted, Evanstonians must be alert for accumulations of snow. The new snow regulation is that the two-inch accumulation can accrue over several consecutive days, not, as before, one 24-hour period. The City has promised, though, that it will update the parkway signs to reflect the ordinances as they now stand.

… that some folks might have been aware (TG was not) – that, about a year ago, an elongated dark-red object visited this solar system. Scientists in Hawaii first discovered it and named it “Oumuamua,” (pronounced “oh moo-uh moo-uh), Hawaiian for “messenger from afar arriving first.”
The visiting object traveled at a speed of 196,000 miles per hour and was about 750 feet by 115 feet. Oumuamua left this solar system in January, but its legacy remains in questions and speculations. It was first thought to be an asteroid or a comet but did not have the accompanying gases of a typical comet, as its trajectory was atypical. Most scientists, however, agreed that it was “interstellar,” that is, not of this solar system.
Its composition was “metal-rich” and was possibly a natural formation from a material unknown in this solar system or possibly a created object, according to some scientists who studied it.
A recent paper from new paper from the Harvard scientists Shmuel Bialy and Abraham Loeb suggested a few explanations for it, one of which was that it was of “artificial origin” sent intentionally to Earth and vicinity “by an alien civilization.” Oumuamua could have been a “light-sail,” or part of one, that had broken off from a larger object. A light-sail is pretty much akin to a wind-sail – it moves when it catches the light.

From our readers: TG: Since Evanston wants to visually distinguish itself from Chicago – which I appreciate, why do they allow unsightly billboards? The different streetlights are just a start, but eliminating billboards would help a lot, especially along Green Bay Road and at Clark and Oak by the curve. Incidentally, does the City get a cut?        – Matt Siegel

From TG: Thank you, Mr. Siegel, for your concern about aesthetics and finances. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that, although these billboards are in the City, they are not on City property. The Union Pacific owns those rights-of-way. Here is the section of the City Code, 3-3-2-1. – “Compliance with Building Code” – that appears to apply: “It shall be unlawful for any person to place or cause to be placed any sign, billboard, or advertising of any kind or description about or upon any public street or alley other than overhanging signs which are located on public property or rights-of-way, and which are erected and maintained in accordance with the Building Code of the City.

TG:
I agree that the Talmadge lights have serious shortcomings. When walking home from a train station at night, I’m scared that I’m invisible to drivers because the streets are dark.     – Reuben Perelman

From TG: Thank you for weighing in, Mr. Perelman. TG hopes you were able to voice your concern at the public meeting earlier this month.

TG: Mr. Cole’s assessment of the City’s traffic problems (Oct. 18) resonated with me. However, I would broaden the award category from the most car-unfriendly city to the most unfriendly multi-modal city. In other words, transportation is dangerous for car drivers, bike riders and pedestrians. To illustrate, I will offer one story citing several poorly engineered conditions affecting all three transportation modes.
Each evening, I walk from the Davis Street Metra Station to my home at 1306 Davis St. As I walk west on Davis Street to cross Maple Avenue, westbound cars turning north on Maple Avenue often don’t slow down to see me and other pedestrians crossing the street.
I continue walking westbound past Lemoi Hardware and the restaurants and shops. The sound of beeping horns is prominent as the one-way traffic pattern, which seems to cause fast driving and near collisions with cars pulling out backwards into speeding traffic along the “Congress Parkway” of Evanston.
Meanwhile, a biker is yelling at a person to “close your door” to avoid “getting doored,” (i.e.) colliding with the open door, which (becomes)/is now/a metal gate bisecting the bike line.
As I approach the Post Office, more honking. Someone has pulled over – perhaps surprising the honker – to one of the drive-through mailboxes (the ones on the north and south sides of the street). To add to the problem, the mailboxes take up what otherwise would be two much-needed parking spaces to serve the growing number of food/entertainment venues.
Close your eyes, it’s about to get scarier. I am now about to cross Ridge Avenue at Davis Street. Due to the design of the street lamps (which provide little light) and the design of the traffic lights (outdated corner upright post style, rather than over-the-road armature style), the odds are against my making it across the street without a car getting very close to me. I have been brushed once and nearly struck at least a half dozen times.
Making conditions worse is a design flaw not unique to Evanston: the countdown clock that accompanies the flashing red hand. Ever since this was introduced in the U.S., it seems pedestrians use every last second to make their way across the intersection, thereby leaving no time for cars to get through. This causes drivers to either race ahead to the intersection to beat out the pedestrians, or to drive through the intersection just as the clock goes to zero and the light turns red. Both situations put pedestrians and drivers in peril.
Okay, so I made it across Ridge Avenue, wearing a blinking red bike light on my backpack to increase my odds of safe transport. I am now waiting to cross Asbury Avenue. My house is in sight!
But wait – another car horn. A driver in the middle lane on Davis has suddenly realized that he needs to be in the left turning lane, but none of the lanes is clearly marked, and apparently the driver isn’t familiar with Evanston traffic flow. He has out-of-town plates (pretty common in this college town).
As I begin to cross Asbury Avenue, another horn. A car heading south on Asbury  Avenue decides to turn left (east) onto one-way Davis Street. The car avoids at least one head-on collision before miraculously making its way to the corner of Davis Street and Ridge Avenue.
The car takes a right turn on Ridge Avenue and escapes (another)/a/near disaster.
I have now crossed Asbury Avenue and am about to enter my walkway, when I notice my neighbor pulling away from the curb on the south side of Davis Street. I wave to her as I walk up to my house. But wait – another horn. A westbound car in the middle lane of Davis Street has crossed Asbury Avenue and is headed directly into my neighbor’s car. The westbound driver doesn’t realize that three one-way lanes end at Asbury Avenue and merge into two lanes of two-way traffic.
But then, who would know that? Too many signs, and no traffic calming has been engineered for this situation. Also, when the City re-paved Davis Street a few years ago (related to sewer repairs), the City neglected to repaint the yellow dividing lines. I put in a request to 311, but the striping was made to the speed hump only.
Spoiler alert: The speed humps don’t work. They only make the startling sound of metal muffler against pavement, with a short skid finish, more prevalent on my street. So much excitement, and all within a three block walk home from the train.
It’s so peaceful to be home.  – Tom Trinley

From TG: Whew, Mr. Trinley (or should TG call you Indiana Jones?), glad you made it home and thank you for helping document some of the difficulties of traversing this fair city.

For all readers, Citizens Greener Evanston offers this safety tip for drivers  (after parking) and for bikers who fear being hit by them: “The only way to ensure you don’t hit anyone is to use what’s known as the ‘Dutch Reach’ technique – use your right hand and reach across your body to open the car door. This forces you to look back for approaching cyclists and other traffic before exiting the car. Research shows it makes drivers and passengers more aware of approaching cyclists, helping to prevent crashes.”

The Traffic Guy thinks ...

… that public art is a boon to the community on many levels. Like so many others, TG is glad to see the City removing some arts funding from the chopping block – a place the arts finds itself way too often.

… that the Evanston Police Department should win the Lip Synch challenge. Check out the video at the bottom of the home page on the RoundTable’s website, evanstonroundtable.com.





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