A ride on Evanston’s new Church Street cycle track


Looking west. A complementary bike lane going westbound will be built on Davis Street. 

Evanston built its first cycle track this year, on Church Street. It starts at Evanston Township High School, on Church Street and Dodge Avenue, and goes east until Chicago Avenue in the downtown. It’s an interesting and unique piece of infrastructure: a very short portion of the cycle track has a two-way section on the same side of the road, including a part on the sidewalk. It’s very interesting. The cycle track involves one-way, two-way, on-sidewalk, on-street, buffered, and protected designs. This photo tour starts at the high school; all photos are looking east unless otherwise noted.


Two-way sidewalk portion at the high school. It was blocked by garbage bins when I visited. This will eventually connect to a bikeway through Mason Park to a one-way, westbound bike lane on Davis Street.

A reader of Grid Chicago more familiar with the city’s plans wrote to us about this two-way portion:

The idea is that people will take Davis Street westbound with a new protected bike lane in 2013 (search for “Davis Street”) from Hinman or Chicago to Asbury. It would become a neighborhood greenway/bike boulevard west of Asbury to Mason Park. Then you cut through the park to get to the two-way bike lane on the south side of Church.


Two-way in-street section.


One-way buffered section on a two-way Church Street at Ashland Avenue.


One-way protected section on a one-way Church Street at Oak Street.


Parking encroaching on the buffer in the protected bike lane area, same issues as in Chicago.


End of the bike lane at Chicago Avenue. Chicago Avenue doesn’t have a bikeway, but it’s ideal for one.

View all the photos from my October 11, 2012, “bike tour” of Chicago’s nearest northern suburb.

View Church Street cycle track in Evanston in a larger map

Update: An earlier version of this post called Church Street the state’s longest cycle track. That was incorrect: the parking-protected bike lane on Lake Street in Chicago is longer.

20 thoughts on “A ride on Evanston’s new Church Street cycle track”

  1. Nice! Thanks for posting this, Steven. This makes me proud to be an Evanstonian! I’ve been puzzling over some of the new sidewalk “furniture”, seen in your “parking encroaching on the buffer” photo above, as it’s a bit ambiguous. I think the trapezoidal metal shapes are bike racks and the vertical ribs with caps are close-in sidewalk lighting. But I’m guessing here. More on the project at:
    The unexplained sidewalk objects are shown, unlabeled, on page 27 of the pdf. As an aside, the jade green color of the track was the result of an informal poll on the city’s web site over the summer, the results of which are on page 23 of the pdf.

    1. I remember seeing that poll to get the color of the bike lane. An Evanston-based transportation engineer said the city cannot choose what color can be laid on the ground unless they get an exemption of MUTCD standards from the FHWA.
      MUTCD: Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices.
      FHWA: Federal Highway Administration.

        1. I’m not sure. I believe that the FHWA has only issued exemptions for color to make green pavements. I don’t know what the exact RGB color representation they allow. Red is reserved for bus lanes and blue is for accessible parking spots, I believe.

          1. I dont believe the tone of the green is mandated, just “green”. So jade, vine, pine etc would all be suitable poll choices.

  2. My husband cycles on Elston from Irving Park down to Damen, and when I read this article to him, he was surprised that you don’t think the Irving Park-to-Fullerton section isn’t continous (and that would be nearly 3 miles)?

    What makes this track in Evanston more-continuous than north Elston’s lane?

  3. What exactly is the NACTO definition of a cycle track? I think in Europe it isn’t technically a cycle track unless it is separated infrastructure. It is pretty for sure with that green paint but how different is it really. Do cars stay out of the lane? More paint is… more paint.

    1. NACTO’s definition says a cycle track has separation, either with medians, parking, or bollards. http://nacto.org/cities-for-cycling/design-guide/cycle-tracks/

      Space, i.e. a buffer, doesn’t count.

      “Cycle tracks may be one-way or two-way, and may be at street level, at sidewalk level, or at an intermediate level. If at sidewalk level, a curb or median separates them from motor traffic, while different pavement color/texture separates the cycle track from the sidewalk. If at street level, they can be separated from motor traffic by raised medians, on-street parking, or bollards. By separating cyclists from motor traffic, cycle tracks can offer a higher level of security than bike lanes and are attractive to a wider spectrum of the public.”
      The Evanston cycle track has portions that are not separated by medians, parking, or bollards. I’ve created a map that shows which portions have which separation (or none).

  4. It’s great to see this. I’m looking forward to riding it soon. When I ride in Evanston, I strongly prefer Hinman to Chicago as a bike street. Traffic speed and volume are much lower, it has no bus, and it’s nearly all residential, with fewer points of conflict. Traffic volume on Church east of Chicago drops off significantly, so the lack of a bike lane for that one block is no big deal.

  5. Threadjack! This post seems appropriate for this.

    Halsted recently got repaved between Diversey and Wellington, they’re still working all the way up to Addison (sewer work ongoing Wellington to Barry, pavement is stripped School to Addison, I think they’re still going to do Barry to School). I walked by the Diversey to Wellington section and it has a buffered bike lane now, including some warning markings in the bike lane where there is parking (ie, door zone warning).

    1. That went in a few months ago.

      I hear there will be buffered lanes installed on Clark St in Lake View, which has also just been resurfaced.

    2. Yeah, that’s been there since July or August, I believe. But that is the extent of the buffered bike lane. The buffered bike lane on Division Street is in that style, with little tick marks to keep you away from the door zone.

      1. Okay, the piece I was by looked brand-spanking new, thought it was part of the ongoing work just north of there, but maybe not.

  6. I live at the corner of Ridge and Church, and while I’m glad for the bike path, I spend a good portion of my time wishing I could go west on Church! What a relief that a westward path is in the works.
    A couple days ago I was on my way home on my bike , at the intersection of Church and Sherman, and stopped to ask a policeman if I could go west on the Church St path, and then he asked me (and several other people who passed us) what I thought of the path.
    Excellent to see this update on the Grid. =D

  7. It looks like a lot of the protected portions are missing bollards. Will those ever be installed?

    There is also no physical separation from bikers and pedestrians in the sidewalk portion of the cycle track. I’ve seen similar setups in Vancouver, BC and the cycle track there was a different color and slightly recessed. It was also free of garbage bins. 🙂

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