Community organizations join together to pursue carbon-free transportation


Source: Go Evanston

Attendees at a kickoff event for Go Evanston in April 2017. Go Evanston recently established a partnership with Citizens’ Greener Evanston with the aim of promoting green transportation and enhancing street accessibility.

Adrian Wan, Assistant Web Editor

Citizens’ Greener Evanston recently established a partnership with Go Evanston to improve street accessibility and to advocate for carbon-free transportation in Evanston.

The two organizations share the goal of promoting green transportation in the Evanston community. CGE works on a broader range of issues including renewable energy and environmental justice, whereas Go Evanston specifically focuses its initiatives on biking. Go Evanston spokesperson Vickie Jacobsen said she hopes the partnership will engage more community members in pursuing sustainability initiatives.

Jacobsen said partnering with CGE will create opportunities for the two organizations to co-organize events aimed at addressing sustainable transportation and adapting to climate change.

CGE president Jonathan Nieuwsma said the two groups will discuss and identify short-term goals regarding bicycle education in the upcoming months. Additionally, the groups will address the enforcement of the Complete and Green Streets policy — a recently updated Evanston plan designed to promote inclusive and accessible transportation policies throughout the city.

“Creating the linkage between those two topics is something that will send an even more powerful message to people in Evanston and hopefully to expand our message to more people,” Jacobsen said.

Nieuwsma said CGE’s large membership size — about 2,600 people — can help Go Evanston increase its own community outreach power. CGE’s status as a nonprofit organization can also assist Go Evanston when dealing with legal and financial formalities that arise, Nieuwsma added.

Go Evanston’s primary focus on biking-related issues, meanwhile, can benefit CGE through providing greater knowledge and expertise in one area, Nieuwsma said.

“CGE’s mission overall is to make Evanston more environmentally sustainable and just, so Go Evanston fits into that existing mission,” Nieuwsma said. “It just makes a lot of sense for them to organize under CGE.”

Since Go Evanston was founded in January 2017 by a group of Evanston residents, Nieuwsma said the organization has been working alongside CGE as “colleagues.” During last year’s discussions surrounding the removal of Dodge Avenue bike lanes, CGE shared a survey drafted by Go Evanston to solicit community members’ opinions on the issue, Nieuwsma added.

Jacobsen said Go Evanston has long been aware of the “strong” role CGE plays in environmental advocacy. Through working together on green transportation initiatives, she said the two organizations hope to provide effective ways to raise public awareness of bike and pedestrian safety and promote community engagement.

“We had a conversation from there and it started to make sense for us to eventually talk about doing our work in parallel,” Jacobsen said.

Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th), who formerly served as CGE’s president, said the new partnership could additionally offer insight on ways to improve the city’s construction programs, such as the Complete and Green Streets initiatives. Revelle said even though bike lane construction projects tend to face pushback from local residents, the “experienced cyclists” working with Go Evanston can shed light on the design of bike lanes and address community members’ needs.

“A lot of times what happens is the City Council adopts something and then it gets put on the back shelves and people forget about it,” Revelle said. “But having a group like Go Evanston can keep reminding the City Council that ‘We have this policy and here’s where you should be applying it.’”

On May 23, Go Evanston will co-host a forum — previously hosted solely by CGE to bring residents together for a short presentation and discussion on various issues — at The Celtic Knot Public House, 626 Church St. As its first session partnering with CGE, Nieuwsma said the upcoming event will focus on local transportation and the mayor’s climate action plan.

“Go Evanston is a group of great individuals, so adding Go Evanston to our programming just really makes us stronger in doing the work we have already been doing,” Nieuwsma said.

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