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September 26, 2017

9/6/2017 4:45:00 PM
The Traffic Guy hears ...
Filming “Black Like Me – Living in Urban Suburban,” on Church St.RoundTable photo
Filming “Black Like Me – Living in Urban Suburban,” on Church St.
RoundTable photo

… that Labor Day is past, the beaches are closed, and schools are open. So begins another year in Evanston.

… that crews have already begun converting the alley south of the 800 block of Foster into a parking lot – widening, paving, adding curbs, etc. The 30 spaces will be permit-parking only. Residents should watch for “No Parking” signs – to be posted at least 48 hours in advance. Other construction projects – resurfacing streets, sealing asphalt cracks, paving alleys, and replacing water mains – should be winding up (or winding down) in the next few weeks.

… that a section of Church St. was closed on Aug. 26 for filming of “Black Like Me – Living in Urban Suburban,” by Evanston-based Good Stewart Productions. Producers and brothers Brandon and Leslie Stewart told the RoundTable that the film is for Black History Month in February 2018. Filming took place at 1712 Church St., between the newly completed murals by husband-and-wife team Lea Pinsky and Dustin Harris of Mix Masters Murals.

… that this coming Tuesday, muralist Ruben Aguirre will begin painting a mural beneath the Dempster Street Metra overpass. Residents and other passersby are invited to post photos on social media using the hashtag #MainDempsterMural.

… that folks can register for the annual Bike Your Park Day, Sept. 30 this year, a day to explore urban and rural parks by bicycle. So far, 550 rides and 3,000 participants in the lower 48 have registered at Bike Your Park Day is on the same day as National Public Lands Day, and many parks will offer free entrance and will organize special activities and service projects. Everyone who registers by Sept. 18 will be entered to win a bike from Advocate Cycles and an Amtrak trip for two, with bikes, to Glacier National Park.

… that many analysts expect oil and gasoline prices to rise because of the damage wreaked by Hurricane Harvey in the Gulf Coast. Patrick DeHann, Senior Petroleum Analyst for GasBuddy, says, “Gas prices are up in many places and motorists should be gearing up for more in the coming weeks, thanks to Hurricane Harvey inundating significant refineries along the Texas coastline, leading to closures and tilting the delicate balance of supply and demand.” Prices had already increased 7.3 cents per gallon the week before the hurricane struck. Gasoline prices aside, one cannot help worry about the residents of Houston and other parts flooded by Harvey.

… that the southern extension of the North Branch Trail is now open, allowing bikers and hikers another three miles to enjoy the outdoors. The extension/addition goes from Devon and Caldwell to Forest and Costner (all in Chicago), and, as most readers know, meanders up to the Chicago Botanic Garden. The cost was $7.7 million.  

… Avast, me hearties! Sept. 19 is Talk Like a Pirate Day. According to, there will be celebrations this year in Suffolk, England (Pirate Weekend); South Korea; Richmond, Va.; and Jefferson County, Colo.

From our readers. We have the best readers, and they have the best words:

TG: Reading “The Traffic Guy hears” in the Aug. 10 RoundTable, and seeing the repaving of Asbury starting from Howard St., I offer the following: I hope that Evanston, in having this work done, avoids previous omissions made when Dodge (2011) and Oakton (2014) were repaved. Due to the same type of staggered side streets, ADA ramps were excluded for wheelchair crossing of the two above-named streets, only placed across the side-connecting streets. Since curbing is to be replaced, and because both sides of Asbury are served by the 206 CTA bus Monday thru Friday, suitable landings should be poured at designated stops. There’s no existing state-mandated crossing for the full 1/2-mile length from Oakton now, so at least one is needed. I hope this time Evanston has taken all accommodations under consideration to ensure safety of its citizens.  – Fred J. Wittenberg

From TG: TG agrees that the staggered streets present a problem for anyone who wishes to cross Dodge south of Main. Curb-cuts and ADA ramps are part of the solution. Alert signs – the ones that light up around yellow pedestrian signs – and crosswalks that end at the parkway, where a new sidewalk would have to be laid, may also be part of the solution. Without the patience and cooperation of drivers on Dodge Avenue, however, they have little chance of success.  

We have all been both frustrated and amused by the remarkable design of the Ridge/Green Bay/Emerson interchange. But I have not seen any corrections yet. Going east on Emerson, you can go straight because north/south traffic is stopped, but the red right-turn sign says no. Same issue heading into the interchange going from Ridge to Green Bay. The backups at rush hour are monumental. Cars are weaving from lane to lane to lane. Any word on any of this?   – Tony Grimwade

From TG: Read on.

TG: Are they ever going to get the goofy Emerson/Ridge/Green Bay intersection right? I have a bird’s-eye view of this intersection and see mishaps occurring during almost every light cycle. When southbound traffic gets a green arrow to make an eastbound turn onto Emerson, they encounter an unexpected red light at Ridge. If there are more than a few cars, which there often are, a line of cars and sometimes large trucks get stuck in the middle of the intersection and can’t escape despite the “Do Not Block Intersection” signs. Easier said than done. And don’t get me started on the new “Stop Here For Pedestrians” signs with their flashing white lights. Granted, cars aren’t crashing into each other, but the problems at this intersection should not be considered acceptable nuisances.  (One change I have noticed, however, is a longer green cycle for southbound Green Bay, which reduces the southbound back-ups.) I wish the City would hold a public meeting to discuss possible long- term solutions with the signal sequences/timing. I still avoid this intersection whenever possible. It’s ridiculous. – Matt Siegel

From TG: Read on.

TG: The other day, while at a stoplight on Green Bay Road and Emerson I noticed a newly installed sign with flashing lights around the perimeter. Is the City of Evanston aware that flashing lights of this sort can trigger severe pain in individuals with migraine headaches, cluster headaches (Google “Suicide Headaches”), trigger seizures in individuals with photosensitive epilepsy and create balance problems in individuals with Meniere’s Disease?
I understand the need for public safety, but there are other ways to accomplish this. The use of flashing lights is not a good choice, not when it can affect the health and wellbeing of a portion of our population. This particular type of installation, with its flashing lights is blatantly detrimental to and in complete disregard of the welfare of many of Evanston’s residents.         – Jamee Carlin

From TG: There is little doubt that the Emerson/Green Bay/Ridge intersection is Evanston’s most bewildering, probably from many angles. After driving through it several times, last week TG decided to take the pedestrian route. Standing on the northwest corner, poised to walk east across Green Bay Road (GBR), TG noticed that the sign on the south side of the street was lighted, as in the accompanying photo. But when TG pressed the button to cross GBR, the sign on the east side did not light up. TG verified this by making it across the road while the “walk” signal was still on and by pressing the walk button to recross GBR. Each signal has an audio element, advising the walker to wait to cross. TG’s final opinion is that this is one tough intersection, particularly now with the “right-turn-on-arrow-only”  signal for cars going east on Emerson and wishing to turn north onto GBR. It does seem that the traffic guys at the City are doing their best and trying to respond to needs and complaints. In the meantime, TG would like to propose a naming contest for the intersection, such as “the horn-blower,” “the maelstrom,” “the patience-eater.”

The Traffic Guy thinks …
… that, with the movements to get rid of statues and other remnants of the Civil War, some readers may be wondering about the origin of Lee Street.
Again, Janet Messenger to the rescue: On page 41 of “The Streets of Evanston,” Ms. Messenger writes that the street was named in 1871 “for Lee J. Pitner by his father, real estate developer Levi C. Pitner, who was laying out Evanston’s Union Addition.”
And Pitner Avenue? That was named for the senior Mr. Pitner (1821-1911).
Sheridan Road presents the real problem. TG has advocated here that the name be changed because of his treatment of Native Americans. Seems he fought on the right side in the Civil War, but it’s hard to stomach some of the other stuff. Did he really say, “The only good Indian is a dead Indian?”  
He denied it, but popular history won’t let it die. So maybe a name change is in order. Readers will also recall that TG has advocated the converse for this City, and that the RT ran an April Fool story saying that the City Council had finally acceded and declared that Dale Evans, not John Evans (who, though he did a great thing helping to found Northwestern, was removed from his office as governor of the Colorado Territory by President Lincoln because of his part in the Sand Creek Massacre) would be the City’s true eponym.
So maybe there is an advantage to historical fluidity – or is that another name for fake news?

Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, September 7, 2017
Comment by: Margaret Schott

Dear Traffic Guy,
A couple of years ago my car was totaled while parked on the street in front of my apartment building in Evanston. A texting driver careened into it (and was taken away in handcuffs by the police). Since then I've done more bicycling around Evanston. It seems to me that the use and awareness of bicycle lanes are still at an early stage of development. For example, once when I was cycling west on Davis, following the green bike path, a bus pulled into the lane right in front of me. When I told the bus driver that the lane was for bikes, he replied that it was a bus stop. The problem is that one needs to know in advance that there were dotted lines up ahead and to be aware of a multi-ton vehicle possibly taking over the lane. Motorized and human-powered vehicles should not have to share the very same space! Another example is the road construction going on at Sheridan Road near Chicago Avenue. Nice bike lanes were put in (thanks Evanston!) and then were blocked by signage stating 'Bike lane ends', with no detour or alternative lanes specified. In this case it seems that vehicular traffic is given priority over bicyclists. That is, bicycle riders are expected to just figure out an alternative route. In contrast, a car lane would not simply by blocked off without another alternative being provided. Finally, bicycle lane markings vary around town. Some markings are almost completely faded, some lanes are green while others are not. When I was in Stockholm recently, I was impressed by the consistent bicycle lane markings everywhere in the city, even around construction sites, and the level of awareness that bike lanes ought to be respected. In Evanston, delivery trucks, landscaping vehicles, pedestrians, wrong-way cyclists etc. often standing in bike lanes. Could the solution for Evanston be for more community members to get on their bicycles and claim their pedal power?

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