Evanston Named "Bicycle Friendly City"
The City of Evanston was recently named a “Bicycle Friendly Community” at the Silver Award level by the League of American Bicyclists on October 18, 2012. The recently completed protected bike lane on Church St. helped the city earn the award.
The League awards Bicycle Friendly Communities (BFC) at five levels (Diamond, Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze) and, with this diverse round of applicants, there are now 242 BFCs in 47 states. With the guidance and expertise of the BFC program, these communities are propelling the growth in bicycling nationwide. According to recent census data, bicycle commuting grew 80 percent in the largest BFCs, but only 32 percent in non-BFC cities, from 2000 to 2011.
In Illinois, Evanston was one of only five communities to have been recognized and one of only two to have received the Silver Award. Other communities were Chicago (Silver), Naperville (Bronze), Schaumburg (Bronze) and Urbana (Bronze).
"This latest round of BFC awards proves yet again that any city -- regardless of size or geography -- can take cost-effective steps to increase bicycling in their community," said League President Andy Clarke. "Cities are embracing biking as a means to save money, reduce congestion, improve health and boost their economy."
“It is gratifying to know that the work of residents, elected officials and city staff to improve Evanston's infrastructure is being recognized on a national level,” said Suzette Robinson, Evanston’s Public Works Director. “Evanston residents not only support the biking infrastructure improvements we have made, but they enthusiastically use them. On any given day, whether it is rainy, sunny or even snowy, bikers in Evanston are biking to work, to school, to public transportation, for leisure and even for sport.”
Evanston has a bicycle culture where people of all ages and types of riders can be actively seen riding in the community. Evanston is a densely developed community, where people can easily get all across town on a bicycle. The City of Evanston has developed bicycle routes and parking to accommodate a variety of riders including commuters, leisure riders, children, families and students. The city has installed capacity for more than 900 bicycles just on city right-of-ways and property alone.
Evanston was recognized by the League for both education and outreach efforts by the city and all of its partners (the public schools, Northwestern University, Active Transportation Alliance, Citizens Greener Evanston, Evanston Bicycle Club, the Environment Board, 1026 Cycles and more) as well as for its engineering. The protected bike lane project on Church St. is a good example of the city using the latest engineering designs to improve infrastructure. The League was particularly impressed that the protected bicycle lane was implemented in response to citizens who commented that they did not feel comfortable riding on the regular streets with traffic but still wanted to bike in Evanston.
The Church St. protected bicycle path separates bicycle traffic from vehicular traffic using different pavement markings, upright lane separators and parking reconfigurations. This provides for a safer cycling experience as bicyclists will not be traveling alongside vehicles. In addition, by placing the cycle track in between parked cars and the sidewalk, car-dooring on the driver’s side is avoided and conflicts between vehicles pulling in and out of parking spaces is eliminated. To learn more about bicycling in Evanston, visit www.cityofevanston.org/bike.