Opinion | We need a bike path on Church St.

Fiona Vosper, Staff Writer

There are many different types of transportation that students use to arrive and leave school—driving, taking the bus, walking and even biking. One of the busiest places in Evanston where these modes of transportation interact is on Church St. Cars and buses command streets, while walkers fill the sidewalk. This leaves one critical question: where should the cyclists go? As roads are dangerous and sidewalks are busy, bikers are left desperate. 

Many students have found that the primary issue stems from a lack of bike paths near the school.

“Every day, I bike down McCormick and take a left on Church. The ride down McCormick is easy and relaxing, but the second I hit Church, it’s so chaotic,” sophomore Samantha Schuneman notes. “If I decide to go on the sidewalk, I get yelled at by students and adults on their way to school. I feel guilty having them move and sort of being a threat.”

People on sidewalks can be extremely unpredictable. Nowadays, it is common for people (including myself) to walk with headphones on, completely unaware of their surroundings, which causes confusion and accidents. 

“I was biking down Church [on the sidewalk] and was trying to pass a girl on her way to school. I assumed she heard me behind her, so I sped up but instead, she moved directly into where I was biking. I felt really bad, but I didn’t really know what else I was supposed to do. She wasn’t hurt but it could have ended really badly,” Schuneman recalls.

Both biking in the street and on sidewalks cause frequent casualties. Biking in the street is safer for pedestrians but  much more dangerous for bikers.

“I bike around town a lot, but streets like Central and Church make it really hard to get around,” says sophomore Kate Schonwald. “I have had a lot of scary situations where cars aren’t paying attention and change lanes without thinking of bikers. I’m constantly worrying about getting hit.” 

The safest place for me when I’m biking is downtown Evanston. There are bike paths on almost every street, which causes sidewalks to be safer for pedestrians, streets to be clear of distracted cyclists, and bikers to have a clear ride around town. I believe that streets around ETHS such as Dodge and Church would absolutely benefit from the addition of bike paths.

In addition to being safer for us all , bike paths would also benefit environmental and public health. According to AARP, the inclusion of bike paths reduces air pollution and noise, making living conditions more desirable for all citizens. 

Another study from MedicalNewsToday states that cycling has many benefits for cardiovascular health. Commuters who cycle have a 46 percent lower risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and are 52 percent less likely to die from one of these diseases. 

Implementing bike paths on streets surrounding school grounds will benefit students, staff and Evanston residents as a whole.

“Most days, I really dread biking to school,” Schuneman concludes. “Not only because it’s tiring, but also because it can be stressful.”