Villages discuss ‘Complete Streets’ initiative
PROPOSED bike lane options
Barriers between bikes and cars
Dedicated bike lanes
Updated: September 17, 2012 11:38AM
Cyclists in Norridge and Harwood Heights could find their paths smoothed in a couple years if a regional bicycling plan is implemented.
Active Transportation Alliance — previously known as the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation — has unveiled a bike route plan for 36 member-communities of the West Central Municipal Conference.
The plan focuses on building connections between communities.
“When you go shopping or to visit a friend or go fishing, you don’t do it all in your own town,” said Lenny Cannata, the municipal conference’s planning coordinator. “We don’t end (trips) at the municipal border. There has to be some level of connectivity to make it useful.”
Active Transportation Alliance looked at roads that could make good bicycle corridors, explained Marissa Dolin, a transportation planner.
“There might be two or three (per municipality) that are regionally important for bicyclists,” Dolin said. “Then the suburbs figure out how to make those streets safe for cyclists.”
Village President Ron Oppedisano noted that Norridge has been considering a bike route plan for a long time.
Harlem Avenue runs through Norridge and Harwood Heights, as well as 11 other conference communities. Lawrence Avenue continues west from Harwood Heights and Norridge to Schiller Park by way of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County’s Robinson Woods.
Both Lawrence and Harlem avenues are home to myriad retail and food establishments.
Now that the municipal conference has reached out with a large-scale plan, the village is looking at ways to integrate its plan with the conference’s version, Oppedisano said.
Trustee Donald Gelsomino said the village has yet to determine how it can designate local bike lanes. The village also has the option to enhance bike routes by adding bicycle racks along the paths.
“We’re looking into the costs of marking the paths,” Gelsomino said.
Funding could prove a challenge to the regionwide bike route plan.
The plan identifies several state and federal grants, including those administered by IDOT, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and U.S. Department of Energy.
Another challenge is coordinating 36 communities.
“It’s a lot of municipalities,” said Ethan Spott, spokesman for the Active Transportation Alliance. “Some challenges come from different zoning and priorities.”
A third challenge could be changing the mind-set of municipal planners, Spott said.
“Planners over the years believe we have to move as many people in cars as possible,” Spott said. “We’re trying to shift that so everyone can get around in as many ways as possible.”
The nonprofit refers to that as “complete streets.”
Cannata aims to figure out shared priorities between municipalities and the Active Transportation Alliance. Applying for funds would come next.
“I wouldn’t expect to see the first round of implementation until 2014,” Cannata said.
For more information, visit www.activetrans.org/completestreets.