A quick look at bicycling in Evanston


The City of Evanston was recently awarded, for the first time, a Bicycle Friendly Community (Silver) designation by the League of American Bicyclists, based on its application (see the full list of awardees, .pdf). For reference, the City of Chicago has a Silver designation. Applications must be renewed with the organization every 5 years. The application asks questions like “How many government employees (including the Bicycle Program Manager), expressed in full-time equivalents, work on bicycle issues in your community?” and “What are the primary reasons your community has invested in bicycling?” It also asks about the mileage of different types of bikeways the city has as well as the mileage of roads (to calculate a density).

I wanted to know more about bicycling in Evanston, so I looked at the American Community Survey’s “Commuting Characteristics by Sex” table to see how people go to work; I looked at the 2006-2010 5-year estimate which asks different people each year for 5 years and is a representation of the data collected in that time period, and not for a single year. The population size for this table is 36,745 workers aged 16 and older and they can work in or outside Evanston (62.4% work the boundary).


  • All: 2.6% ± 0.6. In Chicago, 1.1% ± 0.1
  • Men: 4.0% ± 0.9. In Chicago, 1.6%, ±0.1
  • Women: 1.2% ± 0.6. In Chicago, 0.6% ±0.1

The shares in Evanston are significantly greater, but so are their margins of error. This is likely because the sample size in Evanston is much smaller than Chicago (1,219,311 workers aged 16 and older).

Other modes
  • Transit: 19.5% ± 1.4
  • Drive alone: 51.9% ± 1.8
  • Carpooled: 6.5% ± 1.0
  • Walked: 11.2% ± 1.4

Chicago has a higher transit share (26.6% ± 0.3), slightly lower drive alone share (50.9% ± 0.3), higher carpool share (10.0% ± 0.2), but a much lower walking share (5.8% ± 0.2)


  • Population: 73,880
  • Bike lanes: about 6.7 miles including the new Church Street cycle track
  • Lake shore path (not including every side path): about 2.2 miles*

The Active Transportation Alliance blog notes that the award will be presented to Evanston City Council on Monday, October 22, at 7 PM.

* This data comes from my personal geodatabase, which contains information I manually digitized from the Evanston city bike map (.pdf).

Update October 21, 2012: Chicago has a silver level designation, not gold. 

A chat with Phyllis Harmon, the grande dame of Chicago bicycling

[flickr]photo:6078852200[/flickr]Phyllis Harmon’s return to bicycling at the age of 94 – photos courtesy of Phyllis Harmon

[This piece also runs in Active Transportation Alliance’s Modeshift.]

Phyllis Harmon is the grande dame of American bicycling. She helped create and nurture a number of clubs and advocacy organizations, including the League of American Wheelmen, now called the League of American Bicyclists. During her 66 years with the league, she wore many hats, including editor of the league’s magazine. In 2005, the league identified Harmon as one of the 25 people who changed bicycling in America.

A longtime Chicagoland resident, Harmon also helped found the Evanston Bike Club and the Wheeling Wheelmen. When the Active Transportation Alliance formed in 1985 (then called the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation), Harmon and Schwinn’s Keith Kingbay, another legend in the national bike advocacy community, used their league experience to mentor the fledgling organization. They provided advice on how to structure the new organization, publish a newsletter and get the word out about bicycle laws and safety issues.

The Chicagoland Bicycle Federation inducted Harmon into the CBF Hall of Fame in 2006, and in November 2010 she became the oldest living inductee of the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame. Now 94, Harmon still leads a very active life. Last year I had the pleasure of chatting with her over the phone on behalf of Active Trans on the eve of the organization’s 25th anniversary.

Continue reading A chat with Phyllis Harmon, the grande dame of Chicago bicycling