Regional planners study bike paths for Franklin Park
Bicyclists may have more options in the suburbs. | John H. White~Sun-Times.
Updated: September 10, 2012 12:37PM
FRANKLIN PARK — Bicyclists in Franklin Park and Northlake could find their paths smoothed in a couple years if a regional bicycling plan is implemented.
Active Transportation Alliance — once known as the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation — has assembled a bicycle 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, planning coordinator for the WCMC. “We don’t end (journeys) at the municipal border. There has to be some level of connectivity to make it useful.”
Active Transportation Alliance looked at roads that would make good bicycle corridors, said Marissa Dolin, 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.”
Wolf Road, for example, runs through Northlake and seven other communities, 29 schools, 18 parks and other destinations. In Franklin Park, Grand Avenue, 25th Street and Mannheim Road are mentioned as possible bike corridors.
“I think it’s a great idea if we can accommodate it,” Northlake Mayor Jeff Sherwin said. For Wolf Road he suggests a bike corridor could perhaps run along an existing bike path next to Addison Creek or along a residential street slightly to the east.
Suburbs could install dedicated bike lanes or create side paths or put up barriers between car and bike traffic. Signs designating bike routes and installation of bike racks could also take place.
There are challenges. The first is money. The plan identifies several possible state and federal grants to apply for including those administered by IDOT, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and U.S. Department of Energy.
“It all comes down to money,” Sherwin said. “A lot of towns will have a tough time doing bicycle paths when they need to do resurfacing to keep the road in shape.”
Another challenge is coordinating 36 communities.
“It’s a lot of municipalities,” said Ethan Spott, spokesman of the Active Transportation Alliance. “Some challenges come from different zoning and priorities.”
A third challenge could be changing the mind-set of 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 non-profit refers to that as “complete streets.” For those who want more information, check out their website at www.activetrans.org/completestreets
Over the winter Cannata would aim to figure out priorities in conversation with the 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.