The first action project for the Humanities course Policy was to write a proposal for a zoning change we would like to take place in our ward. My neighborhood gets very dark at night and has many pedestrians passing through, so I thought it would be important to better light key areas. I began by focusing on a church near a dark alley on a main street. At the top of this page is a map of the area, and below is my proposal for improving it.
The streets of Evanston are leafy, residential… and dark. Many residents choose the suburbs as a peaceful way of getting away from the lights of the city, but you can’t have peace without security. Even on some busy, commercial streets, there are areas that are very poorly lit at night. One of these spots is on Chicago Avenue, between Main and Lee, in front of the Hemenway Church.
Next to the church is a parking lot connected to an alley that sees a decent amount of both foot and car traffic. There are few lights in the alley, no lights in the lot, and a very small amount of light coming from the church. The surrounding businesses hardly provide any light either, since most close early or have few windows. What there is a lot of in this area is places to hide in the dark. It makes it a very easy spot for crimes (whether theft, assault, or otherwise) to take place, unnoticed by bystanders and–initially–the victim.
There is a tall streetlight in front of one end of the church, but it principally illuminates the street rather than the sidewalk or church area. The parking lot receives almost no light from the lamp. I propose that the city of Evanston work with Hemenway Church to add two brighter lights to the church itself: one in front, and one on the side to light the lot. Having lamps closer in and lower down would reduce darkness where it is most needed.
Chicago Avenue sees many pedestrians throughout the night, especially due to its proximity to train and bus lines. Making sure the sidewalks are properly lit makes the neighborhood safer for these pedestrians, which in turn makes more people want to live in the area, and promotes the surrounding businesses and transit. Additionally, reducing basic fear allows a sense of community to grow stronger, which can only help the area improve at a more rapid rate.