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home : columns : columns June 25, 2016

12/19/2012 2:56:00 PM
The Traffic Guy hears ...
A reader asks whether there is any way to make cars and bicycles heed the Rules of the Road. TG asks whether these flags reflect light so as to be visible at night.
A reader asks whether there is any way to make cars and bicycles heed the Rules of the Road. TG asks whether these flags reflect light so as to be visible at night.

… that the City will spring for a new traffic signal controller cabinet for the Ridge/Isabella intersection. The previous one was, according to the City, “severely damaged in an accident involving an automobile driven by a DUI driver.” The driver will be invoiced to cover the $26,551 cost of the new cabinet, an Eagle traffic signal controller cabinet from Brown Traffic Products, Inc., in Davenport, Ia. TG assumes that amount covers shipping, handling and labor as well as the cabinet itself.

… that the City will purchase next year’s supply of oil, antifreeze and lubricant from Palatine Oil Company in Schaumburg – at a cost of about $60,000.

… that the City will be able to install the security cameras along Dodge Avenue in the next few weeks. Readers may remember that these cameras were a recent request from Evanston Township High School administrators for next year’s budget. The $60,622 cost will cover the installation of the cameras along Dodge from Dempster to Lyons and the coordination with the police department.

… that changes to streets in the downtown area continue to confuse and annoy. The bike corral on Benson and the bollards (thanks to an architect friend, TG has learned the name of those short lights along Church Street) seem to have replaced scattered bike racks. So naturally people want to use the bollards as bike racks. In retaliation, City folk (presumably) have put up signs warning folks not to attach bikes to the bollards. In addition to dismay about the uselessness of the bollards and confusion about their purpose, TG has heard a concern about how snow – if we ever get any – will be removed from the sidewalks with the bollards in place every few feet. Several folks have suggested to TG that they are just another worthless, expensive mistake by the City. TG invites readers to peruse the end of this column, where the secret of the bollards may be revealed.

From our readers: TG: The item in your Dec. 6 column about sewer work had the right pieces, but they were in the wrong order. The City of Evanston will use the soccer field for the construction yard under a permit issued by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, owner of the site. The sewer rehab on both Cleveland and Davis streets will be performed by the City, not the MWRD. The cost of the Davis Street rehab will be reimbursed to the City by the MWRD, owner of the sewer. It is an example of good government cooperation, where the MWRD will allow the City to do the Davis Street sewer work as part of the larger Davis Street upgrade. Typical silo thinking among different governments would have the MWRD come back a year or two later and tear up Davis Street after the City work was finished.  

– Dick Lanyon

From TG: Thanks, Mr. Lanyon. Your explanation clarifies the order and also the cooperation between the City and MWRD.

TG: I’ve noticed quite a serious traffic-related problem at Sheridan Road and Lee Street. Although the signs both ways require cars to yield and stop for pedestrians at the intersection, many of the cars on Sheridan come barreling up fast and neglect the stop for pedestrians. I think the police need to station a squad car near the intersection to catch some of these cars. This would increase our safety and also net income. Farther south on Sheridan the intersections like these are poorly lit, so at night it’s hard to see whether there’s anyone about to cross. People wait to cross, because drivers often don’t obey the signs.

A final problem is that most of the bike riders I see on my runs and drives don’t obey traffic laws, especially stop signs and red lights.

Bikers also often make turns, even cross-traffic turns, without making any signals. I do not think bikers are invulnerable to accidents by careless drivers, but some of those accidents may be caused by the careless biker.

      – Anna C. Roosevelt

From TG: You have certainly identified a problem, Ms. Roosevelt, but TG does not think that it is confined to Lee and Sheridan, the area you describe. Many bicyclists seem to believe that, although they use the streets, the rules of the road do not apply to them.

Drivers, too, do not seem to pay heed to those signs mandating that they yield to pedestrians and at times do not allow the bicyclists the room they need to ride safely on the side of the road.

The law – a state one – seems almost to be setting up pedestrians to be hit. Do they wait interminably on the curb for the traffic to ease up (which, along some streets, is rare) or dare they step into the street, where they are at risk of being hit by a scofflaw in too big a hurry to care?

TG notes that that intersection also has the flags for pedestrians to carry across Sheridan Road, to make themselves more visible to oncoming traffic. TG wonders, though, whether those flags are made of some sort of reflecting material so they can be seen in the dark.

TG: [In response to Mr. Wild’s question about the stoplights along Sheridan Road]: The traffic signal coordination on Sheridan Road from Chicago Avenue to
Central Street is underway now and is expected to be completed by mid-December. The City will start the Sheridan Road design early next year, and the street
paving is scheduled for 2014/2015.

– from the City

From TG: Thanks for the clarification.

The Traffic Guy thinks …

… that those bollards along Church Street may not be what they seem. One person suggested to TG that they are really intelligence-gathering kiosks, with the ability to pick up person-to-person and cellphone conversations. But TG believes they are microphones about to be hooked up to a giant karaoke machine. At midnight on New Year’s Eve, Wally and Liz (the City Manager and the Mayor) will no doubt be leading everyone throughout the City in a rousing chorus of “Auld Lang Syne,” and on Dec. 29, 2013, when the City celebrates its sesquicentennial, residents can line Church Street and sing “Happy Birthday” to Evanston.

Meanwhile, in this, one of the grimmest times ever in Evanston, TG bids everyone happy holidays and a joyful solstice and offers this continued wish:  

May peace prevail on Earth.





Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, January 5, 2013
Article comment by: Javier Lopez

Traffic Guy,

In response of some of the postings regarding the YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS sign on Sheridan and Lee Rd. and other streets I believe that this law as you mention sets up pedestrians to be hit by giving them a false sense of assurance at a pedestrian crossing. Previous generations relied on common sense and paid attention when crossing the streets rather than deferring the reposnability to the drivers. I wonder how we were able to survive before this law.

I drive this road daily, Shreidan and Lee, all the way up to NWU, at different times of the day and yes I see drivers not stopping. But lets be reasonable here. When crossing at this specfic locations pedestrians, need to be ready to cross. Just because you are approaching the end of the sidewalk does not render the pedestrian to continue walking expecting the driver to stop. The idea is that the pedestrian waits and is seen, then the car stops and then they cross.
Many times I stop, and people are chatting or too busy with their handheld devices to cross.
In the mornings, chatting with others while having their coffee is very common and very confusing as well.
Also, runners just bolt through the intersection, with reckless abandonment. I have seen, people bolting with strollers without hesitating to stop.

One of my favorites is when pedestrians are walking their dogs and the dogs are sniffing around the crossing area, I ask myself, are they crossing should I stop, and when I stop, how long should I wait before they realize traffic is waiting. Then they just walk away and your efforts are just useless.

Then there are the pedestrians that get all bent out of shape when drivers do not stop, when they have already started walking. Feels more like the pedestrian is challenging the car. Guess who hits the hardest...
Not to mention, nightime I rarely wear my night vision goggles while driving, and some pedestrians wear all black add a poorly lit street and some false sense of security and you are setup for a date with a judge....

Bottomline
The crossing flags do not work, they are useless.
Pedestrians should be attentive and aware of their surroundings.

Perhaps an electrical STOP sign needs to be installed, not a traffic light, but a pseudo sign that lights up when the pedestrian press a button to cross, otherwise it is just muted or off. That would be ideal....
The technology is out there.




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