Aldermen vote to keep bike lanes on Dodge Avenue


Colin Boyle/Daily Senior Staffer

Ald. Ann Rainey (8th) speaks out in favor of reconsidering bike lanes on three blocks of Dodge Avenue at Monday’s City Council meeting. Aldermen ultimately voted to keep the lanes intact.

Keerti Gopal, Reporter

Evanston residents applauded aldermen on Monday as they voted to keep protected bike lanes on Dodge Avenue.

The bike lanes — which were installed in summer 2015 — have caused some controversy among community members. The vote came in response to a request that the committee review the necessity for bike lanes on Dodge Avenue between Howard Street and Kirk Street.

City documents said Ald. Ann Rainey (8th) had requested the review, but Rainey — who was the only alderman to vote in favor of the recommendation to remove the bike lanes — said she resented the claim that she had questioned the necessity of bike lanes. She added that the lanes are important, but she wanted to begin conversation about the particular danger these three blocks pose to elderly residents.

“Never, ever did I question the necessity of bike lanes on Dodge,” Rainey said. “I am accusing the staff member who wrote that of throwing me under the bus.”

Rainey went on to explain that the stretch of Dodge Avenue between Howard Street and Kirk Street includes 28 residents who are between 70 and 94 years old, not including residents of Dobson Plaza Nursing Home located on Dodge Avenue. She said although she did not support removing the bike lanes entirely, putting in non-protected bike lanes for those three blocks would help make the area safer for homeowners.

During public comment, several Evanston residents spoke out in support of keeping the bike lanes on Dodge Avenue, noting that protected lanes are crucial to the safety and security of cyclists. Many of the residents in attendance wore green, which Go Evanston spokesperson Vickie Jacobsen said was a conscious effort by the organization’s members to show their support for keeping the lanes.

Jacobsen said although she sees room to improve the lanes on Dodge Avenue — particularly to make transit stops and parking more accessible — she feels strongly that keeping the protected lanes will be a positive step toward developing Evanston into a comprehensive bicycle network.

“Protected bike lanes are uniquely designed for riders of all ages and abilities,” Jacobsen said. “A protected bike lane is a dedicated facility that makes a lot of people feel a lot safer.”

Though the majority of residents who spoke were in favor of keeping bike lanes intact, others voiced their concerns with the lanes.

Judy Fradin, who said she lives near the bike lanes in question, said the lanes make driving in the area difficult and dangerous. She urged aldermen to reconsider their decision.

“Making a left turn onto Dodge from the streets west of Dodge, south of Howard is close to impossible,” Fradin said.

She added that a possible solution to the problem could be the construction of a single, wider bike lane instead of the two narrow lanes that currently exist.

According to city documents, it would cost around $150,000 to remove the bike lanes on Dodge Avenue, and Evanston would likely have to pay back part of the $292,000 Congestion Mitigation Air Quality for Planning grant that paid for the original construction of the lanes.

Returning this grant could potentially complicate Evanston’s ability to obtain future grants from CMAQ, according to city documents.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @keerti_gopal