The Traffic Guy hears ...
… that when one hears “stop consolidation” in connection with the CTA’s modernization program, one should consider “stop” as a noun-acting-as-modifier rather than a verb. The plan is to consolidate several station stops on the Red Line. In Evanston, consolidating the eight stops would reduce the number of stops to six but add two station entrances. The Foster Street stop would be extended so that riders would be able to use Church Street and Gaffield Place as secondary entrances. Similarly, Madison Street would be a secondary entrance for the South Boulevard stop. Stay tuned.
… that there were a few reasons Oak Park ditched Divvy earlier this year. A fellow journalist there writes, “Ridership was not growing, cost per ride was up, government subsidy was up. … OP is now exploring various dockless bike-sharing systems. This was both economic and political in OP.”
… that gasoline prices continue to fall here, but they are still slightly above the national average, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 1,437 stations in Chicago. Including the change locally during the past week, prices yesterday were 28.7 cents per gallon lower than a year ago and are 29.5 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. The national average has dropped 26.1 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 5.7 cents per gallon lower than a year ago. Patarick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy writes, “"For the tenth straight week, gas prices have been in a state of decline, falling to the lowest level since prior to Hurricane Harvey in 2017 to the mid $2.30s with now 31 states with at least one gas station selling gasoline under $2 per gallon, saving motorists hundreds of millions of dollars versus prices just two months ago. … Oil prices have been slow to react to a cut in oil production from OPEC, instead focusing on economic concerns and trade tensions with China. Thus far, it seems that it ‘may take a village’ to help oil prices recover, help that would include robust demand from the U.S., which seems to be anything but the case. For now, prices will remain seasonally challenged, tied to the fact or expected fate of the economy moving forward.”
… that, on the heels of Oxford’s choice of “toxic” and Dictionary.com’s choice of “misinformation” as the word of the year for 2018, Merriam-Webster has chosen “justice.” The choice was “driven by the churning news cycle over months and months, according to the Associated Press. The AP story also said, “Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster's editor at large, told the Associated Press the designation for ‘justice’ came soon after President Trump’s one-time fixer, Michael Cohen, was sentenced to three years in prison. … Sentencing for drug crimes, treatment for opioid addiction, a loosening of cannabis laws, a Tesla probe, the Mueller investigation into the Trump campaign: Justice will remain top of mind into the new year.”
The Traffic Guy thinks …
… that, since nearly everybody else at year-end touts the best or the worst of the year, TG feels entitled to do so too. So, here are the best and the worst of the streets of Evanston:
• Not stopping for pedestrians waiting on the curb at a crosswalk. It’s easy to pretend not to see them. They could just be hanging around, waiting for their friends to show up so they can burst into song like the do-wop kids of the late ’50s. Or they could be having a great time in the cold, snow or rain watching the cars speed past and splash them. Or – think of this – they could be waiting to cross the street.
• Allowing what amounts to a road for a private developer, to be paid for by the residents and businesses of Cook County. Shame on you, MWRD Commissioners, except for Debra Shore and a few others, for allowing this road to be built. And why would the Cook County Board think this is a good use of its highway department and its constituents’ dollars?
• Continuing to permit bike traffic on Ridge/Green Bay. Of course TG understands commuting by bicycle and the need to maintain momentum but does not feel that Evanston’s main arteries offer sufficient protection. Yet.
• Divvy bikes. To readers inclined to make an instinct-fueled leap over logic to reaction and conclude TG is opposed to bicycles, TG would say the most recent report of climate change is horrifying. Everyone has to try to shrink the carbon footprint that threatens the planet. But TG does question the calculus of Divvy bikes and has never seen how much they are used, how much they cost the city in dollars versus how much they save the city in greenhouse gas emissions. Of course, TG would be happy to have these suspicions debunked – and promises to wait and see.
• Readers who thought the worst “milestone” would be the Emerson/Ridge/ Green Bay intersection or the Dodge Avenue bike lanes may be surprised to learn that, despite last year’s animosity, TG finds that most residents have made peace with them. Once a nickname is attached to “That Intersection,” it will become a source of assertive pride for those who have survived it for a year without incident and in the proper lane. As for the bike lanes, drivers will just have to get accustomed to the fact that all bike lanes, regardless of width, are considered two-way lanes by their users. The lane TG finds immensely puzzling is the arc at Chicago and Davis, taking the bike lane via curve across four lanes of traffic, though finally to the protected lane on the east side of the street.
And now for the Best of Streets 2018, many of which are along the Green/Bay Ridge corridor.
• The delayed-signal traffic light at Lake and Ridge. Some folks may find it annoying to have to wait an extra minute or even 90 seconds, but TG finds it helps make for safer, saner traffic patterns all along Ridge.
• The permanent ban on crossing traffic lanes onto and from Grove at Ridge. Without a traffic light, a southbound car on Ridge wanting to go east on Grove or a northbound car, west, could incur the wrath of drivers in lines of cars. Traveling one block farther – to Lake or Davis – is not such a hardship.
• The traffic light at Asbury/Ridge. TG understands that this causes backups for southbound traffic – sometimes all the way to Simpson. Still, it eases congestion at that intersection and allows traffic to enter the Ridge corridor at a smoother pace.
• The completion of the Sheridan Road project. While, readers may remember, TG was skeptical of the need for a ribbon-cutting for this, it is good to have it, well, in the metaphorical rear-view mirror.
• Those absolutely gorgeous murals at several viaducts, such as Gibbs-Morrison, Church at Maple, Lake Street and the walls of the former EJE railroad spur on Foster – and the sculpture at that intersection.
• Some stunning cross walks in south Evanston.
• “Let’s Get Going” by Chicago sculptor Terry Karpowitz, at the Dempster entrance to Harbert Park. Harbert Park is TG’s favorite park in all of Evanston, and that red figure (wish it were orange and blue) seems to invite everyone to hurry into our fabulous town. Does it remind anyone of the Olympic runner in Athens?
Happy Trails to all in the new year.