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7/27/2016 12:26:00 PM
Dodge Avenue Bike Lane Called 'Horrendous'
The new protected bike lane on Dodge Avenue is proving to be unpopular in the community and with some aldermen.                      
RoundTable photo

The new protected bike lane on Dodge Avenue is proving to be unpopular in the community and with some aldermen.                      

RoundTable photo

By Shawn Jones


The protected bike lane on Dodge Avenue between Church and Howard streets drew criticism from about a dozen residents at the July 25 City Council meeting, resulting in a promise from Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl to make things better.

During the citizen comment portion of the Council meeting, it became immediately apparent that the bike lane was a major source of complaints in the neighborhood. “There isn’t one person that’s happy” with the new configuration, said speaker Sheila Brand.

The protected bike lane allows bicyclists to ride between parked cars and the curb, with white posts separating cars from the bike lane. The City has added these protected lanes at several places in Evanston, most visibly on Church and Davis streets in the heart of downtown. The addition of such lanes farther west stirred controversy when plans were introduced in 2014.

At that time, in September 2014, Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, proposed more traditional bike lanes, in part to preserve parking spaces lost in the protected bike lane plan. Council voted narrowly, 5-4, to reject traditional lanes, then 6-3 to accept the protected bike lanes.

Now that the protected bike lanes have been completed, the neighbors have come out in force against them. Ms. Brand recounted a time when a fire truck could not get down Dodge Avenue because parked cars blocked the way. There is just not enough room for emergency vehicles, she said.

One resident said, “We are at risk. … And feel marginalized and disrespected. You have put us at risk. ... Do something.”

Another speaker called the bike lanes a “menace to traffic, to drivers, to pedestrians, to emergency vehicles.”

“Don’t curse another neighborhood with protected bike lanes on arterial streets,” said resident Leo Sherman. Others called the bike lanes “an accident waiting to happen,” with several recounting near misses particularly at the intersection of Kirk Street and Dodge Avenue, across from the Levy Center and James Park.

Alderman Ann Rainey, whose 8th Ward includes the Kirk-Dodge intersection and who voted against the protected bike lane in 2014, said at call of the wards, “The bike lanes on Dodge are definitely a mistake. It’s just horrendous. I agree with every single comment made [by residents at citizen comment].”

She called for the lanes to be undone. “I realize that to undo it is going to cost a lot of money, but it’s worth it,” she said.

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl agreed, saying that something needed to be done “before school starts.” The safety of kids walking to school was mentioned by several speakers.

Ironically, in 2014, the safety of kids biking to Evanston Township High School was cited as a major reason for the protected lanes. Sometimes, said Ald. Rainey, the City does not realize the true impact of a decision until after the project has been completed.




 

Community Members Invited to Participate in Dodge Avenue Protected Bike Lane Ride July 28

Bike

Submitted by the City of Evanston

 Evanston bicyclists of all ages are invited to join Wheel & Sprocket and Bucephalus Bikes for a tour of the City’s new Dodge Avenue Protected Bike Lane on Thursday, July 28.

The free, 4-mile guided ride will begin at 6:45 p.m. at the Church Street and Dodge Avenue Divvy Bike station, traveling south on Dodge Avenue to the Levy Senior Center before returning north to the starting point. Bicyclists will get to experience the City’s newest bike infrastructure while also receiving tips for safe riding.

Participants should meet at the Church Street and Dodge Avenue Divvy Bike Station at 6:45 p.m., or at 6:30 p.m. at Wheel & Sprocket, 1027 Davis St. Prior to 6 p.m., Bucephalus Bikes, at 1424 Lake St., and Wheel & Sprocket will be providing free bike safety checks and tire pump-ups at their respective locations.

All participants must provide their own bicycle, or may rent one from the Divvy Station. Divvy pricing information can be found atdivvybikes.com/pricing. All riders are strongly encouraged to wear a helmet; helmets are required for those under the age of 18.

Community members can learn more about the Divvy Bike Share program and receive a special summer discount code for a $75 Divvy annual membership by stopping by the Church Street and Dodge Avenue Divvy station this afternoon, Wednesday, July 27, between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

For more information, please call/text 847-448-4311. For convenience, residents may simply dial 3-1-1 in Evanston.

 





Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Comment by: Kathy Kovacic

I live near Dodge and Dempster and I now have to avoid Dodge altogether because of those bike lanes. It used to be that cars making rights on red could get into the right lane near the intersection, which would cut down on the number of cars lined up to go straight. Now, any driver (including me) who wants to turn onto eastbound Dempster from northbound Dodge has to sit through multiple light changes before being able to make the turn on green. This is true at Main and Oakton, as well. Traffic just crawls now on Dodge.

I hope the City can at least remove the poles and make right turn lanes for cars. That would help a lot. And while they're at it, how about a right-turn only lane on eastbound Dempster at Dodge?



Posted: Thursday, July 28, 2016
Comment by: Michael Johnson

I love the new bike lanes. Protected lanes are the best. I both bike and drive on Dodge at various times, and I agree with the comments by Luke Adams. I'm not buying the vague claim that emergency vehicles can't get through.

WE NEED TO KEEP THE LANES! In fact, we need more of these throughout the city. Biking is the most efficient form of transportation for pretty much any moving creature on the planet.

It seems like the local residents need a little time to adjust to a new traffic pattern, but the protected bike lane is definitely the correct choice for this street. We need more protected bike lanes!


Posted: Thursday, July 28, 2016
Comment by: Kelley Elwood

I live off Dodge and can't stand the new bike lanes! Here's why.

1) The bike lanes make it difficult for cars to pull into traffic. To enter Dodge, I have to cross sidewalk traffic, bike lane, parked cars to even see if it is safe to proceed. That puts me directly in the bike lane. Then I have to make a sharp turn onto Dodge to avoid hitting the posts.

2) Not only have parking spaces been eliminated, the placement of the posts makes it hard to park in the end spaces which wastes space for other cars.

3) I've used the new lanes. I had to dodge trash and over grown trees.

4) Dodge is now too narrow in many places making it nearly impossible to stay in a lane which now adds the danger of cars hitting each other head on.

5) If even one person doesn't understand the parking system and parks in a bike lane, bikers are stuck and have to get off their bike to get around the lone car.

6) I am not sure how these lanes are "protected" as bikers now have to watch for cars darting out from side streets instead seeing them coming straight on. See #1 on problems with pulling out from side streets.

7) What happens in the winter when there are no bikers? I can just see plows hitting cars and cars being buried in snow. People scraping off their cars will now be forced to stand even closer to oncoming car traffic.

8) I don't see how these new lanes inspire more people to ride their bike. Either you are a bike rider or you aren't. I doubt anyone has said, "oh now that there is a new lane I think I'll buy a bike."

9) I have seen very few people even using the lanes! Bikes still use the sidewalk...maybe to avoid the trash and weeds.

I fear the new lanes instill a false sense of security for bikers and a new danger for drivers. Too bad we had to waste dwindling city dollars on this experiment.


Posted: Thursday, July 28, 2016
Comment by: Deborah Wolen

We nearby residents were not informed about the bike lane installation, and some common concerns are:
1. safety for the parked car in unloading passengers, who are often children
2. how will snow be removed from the bike lane?
3. how will the curb be cleaned of leafy droppings, which, if not cleaned up, could clog the sewers?
4. affected residents on Dodge are accustomed to having a parking space in front of, or very near by their homes the number of parking spaces has been reduced, so it is not as easy to park in front of one's own home.

Involving nearby residents in the planning process would have been wise and respectful and probably would have avoided this distress.


Posted: Thursday, July 28, 2016
Comment by: kindon mills

The new protected bike lanes on dodge are miraculous. I am not sure what specific complaints are being filed, but i feel safer both as a driver and a cyclist on Dodge. Cars used to pass on the right in the bike lane, which is not possible now. Traffic is moving freely and the protected lane means I can ride north-south in Evanston with my children.

Posted: Thursday, July 28, 2016
Comment by: Jo Oh

The Dodge Ave. protected bike lanes are a great addition to the road and to the neighborhood and to the City of Evanston! They help slow/calm traffic and make it safer for all roadway users (bicyclists, pedestrians, and drivers -- especially the vulnerable, such as seniors, children, and persons with disabilities. They may take a little time to get used to but the criticisms offered here are not, in my opinion, well-informed or well thought-out. They represent reactive opposition to change. I'd like to know how many of the comments/complaints were by people who actually USE the bike lanes? Emergency response vehicles can still access the neighborhood, residences, businesses. In fact, emergency response vehicles -- like fire trucks, police, ambulances -- spend most of their time/outings responding to traffic accidents, so if we make roads safer for everyone using them (by all modes of travel), then the ER folks 1) are happy, and 2) can respond quicker to the fewer calls they get.
Evanston should expand the network of separated bike lanes as quickly and aggressively as possible!


Posted: Thursday, July 28, 2016
Comment by: Anne Humphrey

This is crazy! As a driver I feel much less likely to accidentally hit a biker, and as a mom of a 12 year old who is flexing her new independence by riding farther afield, I feel better with her in the protected lanes. Far from being disrespectful to residents, it provides a city service/infrastructure that has previously been reserved for the downtown area. I think it's great, safe, and truly enhances the quality of life of our community.


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