Evanston to create protected bike lane on Church Street

Amanda Gilbert

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Evanston plans to install a protected bike lane along Church Street this summer.

The bike path will begin at the corner of Church Street and Dodge Avenue and will end at the lakefront. It will separate bike traffic from motor traffic through the use of pavement markings and upright lane separators, which will physically protect bicyclists.

Evanston resident Julie Deardorff said she was “grateful” for the planned bike lane.

“Last year, my six-year-old was doored by a driver while we were riding in a bike lane in the downtown area,” Deardorff said.

Deardorff said she thinks a physical barrier between cyclists and motorized traffic will be safer for residents, especially children, to ride.

The Evanston protected bike path is part of the Active Transportation Alliance’s Neighborhood Bikeways campaign for the creation of a 100-mile network of protected bikeways.

ATA coordinators said Evanston’s plan is one example of how the city is becoming a national leader for safe streets. An ATA spokeswoman reached Friday deferred to comments made by Barb Cornew, their north suburban coordinator, in the Chicago Tribune last week.

City officials were informed last month that Evanston’s petition for an $11.7 million grant that would fund the project was denied. Evanston applied for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery III grant in October.

Despite the setback, council members decided to move forward with the project.

The city asked for input from residents last month regarding what color the bike lane should be painted. An online voting site was created, and residents could choose from five different colors until voting closed March 19.

Ultimately, voters decided on a jade color for the new bike lane, which beat out tan, turquoise, green and diamantine, according to the Tribune.

However, not everyone is pleased with the outcome of the online vote. Former Northwestern cycling team member Nate Bartlett said he was happy the community is painting the lane, but he does not think it is necessary to paint the entire length.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea that they are going to paint the entire lane because it will make it slippery for bikers to ride on,” the Communication senior said.

Chris Mailing, owner of Evanston’s Turin Bicycle shop, said the bike lane will not only make Evanston a healthier place to live, but also improve the community’s economy.

“People will be able to shop locally while getting exercise and reducing air pollution,” Mailing said. “It’s a win-win for everyone.”