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home : community forum September 28, 2016

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Posted: Friday, September 23, 2016
Community forum entry by: Donald Lewis

Re: Dodge Ave bike lanes and our opposition to them. From our own experiences and the experiences of our neighbors over the past several months, the bike lanes on Dodge Ave. are a menace to all, even the bicyclists they purport to serve.

We forwarded the following comments via email to our 9th Ward Alderman, Brian Miller. He said, "I agree with pretty much all you have said."

1) The lanes force drivers parking on Dodge to step into traffic to exit. How safe can that be? We saw a woman take her baby out of a carseat which was on the driver's side into traffic. It's only a matter of time before a disaster occurs and/or the city is held liable.

2) The lanes force passengers exiting vehicles into the bike lane. A neighbor recently received a ticket from Evanston PD due to opening a passenger door into the bike lane, sending a bicyclist flying off his bike. It's also probably why hard core bicyclists rarely use these lanes.

3) Bicyclists don't always use lanes in the appropriate direction. My wife was nearly hit when she checked for vehicles and bikes, but didn't look in the direction against the arrow. Did this bicyclist get a ticket for going in the wrong direction? No. Bicyclists aren't held to the same standards as motor vehicles they can go pretty much go wherever they want with impunity.

4) It is extremely difficult and dangerous to pull out into traffic from a side street onto Dodge Ave. It is almost impossible to see oncoming traffic from either direction due to vehicles, especially large ones, blocking sight lines down the street. One has to pull almost into traffic to see, ironically sitting in the bike lane to do so.

5) Bicyclists are more prone to being targets of crime. Because bicyclists are funneled into a narrow lane, they have no escape from someone lying in wait, either in a vehicle, sidewalk or side street.

6) Emergency vehicles -- police, fire, paramedics -- can no longer maneuver through traffic on Dodge because motorists have nowhere to pull over. It's only a matter of time before something catastrophic happens.

7) Buses no longer have anywhere to pull over or if they do, they choose not to. This forces cars to go around buses in opposite lanes of traffic or, as I'm not proud to admit, to use the left turn lane to beat out a bus that refuses to pull over.

8) Street cleaning/snow plowing. Streets & San are going to pull every pole out of the ground whenever they clean the street or plow the snow? And where will they plow the snow -- into the bike lanes? What if the pole holes freeze over with slush -- where will the poles go? Evanston bicyclists ride in all four seasons...this is a problem.

9) Bikes have always shared lanes with motor vehicles. Why did the city embark on this without asking the public that live in the area how they would feel about it? The city never sought our opinion, nor did they ask our neighbors.





Posted: Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Community forum entry by: Thomas Witt

Improve, Don't Remove Dodge Avenue Protected Bike Lane
Since the Dodge Avenue protected bike lane was installed earlier this summer, there have been about an equal number of comments pro and con, according to the Roundtable’s reporting (see City Council Bytes: Aug. 15).
This is not surprising. Even the protected bike lanes in other cities that are held up as examples of a job well done encountered criticism immediately after they were installed and underwent alterations to address some of the criticisms. But residents, drivers, pedestrians and cyclists mostly got used to the changed conditions.
We pretty much got what the City Council voted for when it approved the Dodge Avenue Protected Bike Lane the undeniable result is slower car traffic on Dodge and a safer space for kids to use when biking to ETHS, Dawes and Robert Crown Center. In addition, the City not only spent its own money but also received federal funding to help pay for the lane’s construction.
It would really be a shame if the Council wavered in the face of early signs of unease among habitual users of Dodge Avenue. Here’s hoping that instead of abandoning the project – and jeopardizing its reputation as a reliable partner for federal and state funding agencies – the Council instead takes advice from staff on how any legitimate problems with the protected bike lane can be remedied. Or, in other words: improve it, don’t remove it.



Posted: Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Community forum entry by: John Foley

Review Info Before Voting
Representative Robyn Gabel has represented the 18th District of Illinois (Evanston, except northwest Evanston) since 2010. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky has represented the 9th District of Illinois since 1999. Reviewing their websites shows us their priorities are clean energy, jobs, gun control, juvenile justice, affordable housing, the Public Option for healthcare, and ending contracts with private prisons.
Their goals are worthy, except consider:
• Illinois lost 77,400 jobs between May and July of 2016 (IDES) – more jobs lost than the entire population of Evanston.
• 105,200 more people left Illinois than arrived (Northwest Herald 1/23/16).
• Speaker Michael Madigan has been Illinois House Speaker 31 of the last 33 years. In 1987, our public pensions were 60% funded and had an $8 billion unfunded liability (Civic Federation). Speaker Madigan has done a wonderful job of suppressing democracy (Google the district map of the 18th district and the 9th congressional district to see the art of gerrymandering).
• Illinois public pensions are 39% funded with a $111 billion funding deficit – compared to 100% funding of pensions in Wisconsin.
• Our 11% U-6 unemployment rate places Illinois in 43rd place out of 50 states. Indiana’s U-6 unemployment rate is 8.7% and Wisconsin is at 8.2%. If we added 300,000 private sector jobs, the U-6 unemployment rate would be 7.3%, budget revenue would be increased by $1.73 billion dollars and savings (just in Medicaid) of over $4.7 billion dollars would be realized (Chicago Tribune 2/3/15). The $7 billion budget deficit hasn’t been closed, but it is much smaller. The formula of pro-growth states needs to be brought to Illinois.
• Illinois is ranked the 38th-best state for taxes by Forbes.
• 63 out of 158 Illinois House and Senate seats are being contested (Chicago Tribune)—those who live in the 18th District have a contested race. Are you familiar with the Illinois Map Amendment? Were you aware that over 550,000 citizens signed the petition to no avail?
• Gerrymandering districts to suppress the vote isn’t working. We need private sector jobs. We need leadership willing to tackle the tough issues to grow our private sector and lead Illinois back to solvency. Illinois cannot afford to lose 77,400 jobs.
Representative Gabel’s opponent is Jessica Tucker, whose website is tuckerforillinois.com.
Congresswoman Schakowsky’s opponent is Joan McCarthy Lasonde. Her website is joanforcongress.com.



Posted: Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Community forum entry by: Fred Wittenberg

Testing the Waters
Attending the second water meeting on Sept. 1, and with the continued RoundTable coverage the past three months, I am again prompted to respond. A half-square mile, bounded roughly by the channel, Oakton and Howard streets and Dodge Avenue, has provided a few “questionable” water tests only in the eastern corners of the area. The highest coal tar reading was 58 parts per trillion, well below safe drinking thresholds. Being a public concern now, along with the City’s suit against the two utilities, why hasn’t Evanston been troubled with this in the interim – between the gas plant opening in 1910, the Oakton water main installed in 1925 and today?
As I’ve stated before, how did coal tar infiltrate pressurized pipe, as the City contends? They disclosed that coal tar was both inside and outside the main. In my opinion, it can’t be due to a plume that spread throughout the now-James-Park area, as contamination would be concentrated and widespread. I believe that the water main in that location originally had coal tar applied internally and externally, maybe accidentally. Therefore, there appears to be no grounds against the utilities.
Additionally, a century ago, Southwest Evanston wasn’t very pristine. Besides the clay and garbage pits, the NorthWestern had a rail yard where Home Depot now stands. This served the Mayfair Line, which ran across the northwest corner of the cited parcel above and connected to the main line at Green Bay Road. Up until the late 1950s, coal-burning locomotives plied the yard and route. Who knows if this added to the mix? Concluding, since we have a heightened awareness for clean water, with the City willing to test, is there any lead in the Dawes School fountains or in our home supply?



Posted: Friday, September 9, 2016
Community forum entry by: Alyce Barry

In response to the letter "Sees Something Very Wrong" on p.24 of the Sept. 8 issue from William Graham.
Mr Graham,
I was pleased to find your letter here because on July 14th I wanted to speak with some motorists and didn't have the chance. The Evanston Police Department did a great job of protecting us marchers, led by two young women from ETHS, from cars. In fact, I thought they did so well that very few motorists were stopped long enough to be much inconvenienced, and they thereby effectively undermined our reason for marching. Speaking for myself, I marched because I had been brought to my feet by the events of the previous week. I marched to help make other Evanstonians aware of daily threats to black lives here and elsewhere, and aware of the rising level of trauma in black communities across the country.
Mr. Graham, perhaps you were unaware that in the days prior to our march, many people were reeling from the combined impact of murders in Minnesota and Louisiana and the violent reactions to them by young men with military training who had clearly had enough. I was relieved and thrilled to have a chance to yell in the streets that violence like we'd seen in the news affects us all and must not be allowed to continue. I, a 65-year-old white woman, yelled until my voice was hoarse that "Black lives matter" and that either the US tradition of police immunity and impunity must end or we must find a way to live without police. Today's police departments derive from the days of slavecatchers, and many have tacitly been given carte blanche to commit murder so long as they can say they "felt threatened."
I've worked for 20 years in the field of personal growth, Mr. Graham, and I assure you that people in my field take responsibility for their "feelings" and don't place the responsibility for them onto others.
Mr. Graham, our march delayed your arrival home by some minutes. Alton Sterling, killed on July 5th in Louisiana by a police officer who had pinned him to the ground, never gets to go home again. Philando Castile, killed by a police officer on July 6th in Minnesota, never gets to go home again he was killed after being stopped by the police 52 times for minor traffic violations. Hundreds more unarmed people of color, men, women, and children, killed by police officers over the decades, never get to go home again. Most of those officers will never be indicted, much less convicted, and many excuse their actions only by saying they "felt threatened."
Mr. Graham, I believe our protest on July 14 is what democracy looks like, and all those who love democracy can be proud. The US Constitution protects citizens' right to protest. I don't believe it protects the right of motorists to avoid being inconvenienced by the free exercise by fellow citizens of their constitutional rights. You mentioned that you're a hard worker I have no doubt that many people have been inconvenienced over the decades by fellow citizens protesting unfair working conditions. In France, July 14 is Bastille Day, a national holiday honoring a day in 1789 when I'm certain many people in Paris were inconvenienced by their fellow citizens rising up against oppression.
Mr. Graham, I'd like to extend you 3 invitations. First, to join me in applauding the passion, commitment, and civic duty of these two young women who put democracy into action. I think Evanston and ETHS specifically should be really proud of them. Second, if you have a smartphone, I invite you to download the Waze app, which will direct you around many known traffic problems, among them those created consciously to raise awareness. And third, if there's a cause you believe isn't getting enough attention from Evanston residents, I invite you to call on me to join you in Evanston's streets.



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