Aldermen delay bike plan after public criticism

Ciara McCarthy, Editor in Chief

Evanston aldermen delayed voting on a citywide bike plan Monday after residents criticized aspects of the proposal and asked City Council to revise it before approval.

About 15 residents spoke on the issue, which aldermen were scheduled to take action on before they decided to reevaluate the plan. Many citizens expressed support for making bike safety a priority in Evanston but said the current plan did not have enough community input.

In particular, residents criticized the proposal’s plans to create a bike lane on Davis Street, west of Asbury Avenue, saying such an addition could jeopardize one of the city’s historic districts.

The Rev. Howard Hendrix, the senior pastor at the Evanston New Testament Church of God in the 1300 block of Davis Street, said the suggested bike lane would limit the church’s accessibility by reducing the number of available parking spaces near the church. He noted that the lack of parking near the church would be especially difficult for senior citizens.

“We are not anti-cyclist in our church, but we are pro-church,” he said.

Other members of the church echoed Hendrix’s concerns about parking and accessibility.

After a lengthy period of citizen comment, aldermen discussed the bike plan and decided to hold the proposal. Ald. Ann Rainey (8th) encouraged the council to revise the plan and incorporate more feedback from the community.

“Everybody likes the bike plan except there are pieces that need to be adjusted,” she said. “I think they’ve raised questions about how many people were really involved.”

Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl also requested that revisions of the plan include a greater emphasis on educating the community about bike safety.

Evanston commissioned the plan as an update to the city’s 2003 Bike Plan. The proposal was funded in large part by a $100,000 grant from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, according to city documents.

City officials also presented several reports to the council, including an update on Evanston’s negotiations with nearby communities to enter contracts for water supply.

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