With headlines focusing on Chicago’s Divvy bike sharing program expanding into Oak Park, a less heralded portion of the same study on potential docking sites outlines how to transform the community into a mecca for bicyclists by linking neighborhoods via a network of routes that prioritize two-wheeled travel.
The study, conducted by the Active Transportation Alliance and recently approved by the Village Board, drilled into a broad, visionary bicycle plan created in 2008 to flesh out specific strategies for implementing two components of the original plan — a bike-sharing program and a bicycle boulevard system connecting a grid of low-traffic, low-speed routes on residential streets.
Neighborhood greenways, as the study calls the bicycling routes, use infrastructure features that calm and reduce vehicle traffic on neighborhood streets, and improve safety at busy intersections. The goal, the study says, is an attractive, safe and comfortable environment for bicyclists of all ages, and more peaceful residential streets.
The study recommends all or parts of 10 streets be included initially in what eventually would become a 17-mile greenway network connecting bicyclists to schools, parks and businesses throughout the community.
Kenilworth and Home avenues, Scoville and Fair Oaks avenues, and Lombard and Harvey avenues are recommended for the north-south routes. Parts of Le Moyne Parkway, Thomas, Pleasant, Harvard, Van Buren, Adams and Harrison streets were recommended for the east-west routes.
Route features would include green painted lanes at intersections of high-volume streets to indicate to drivers where cyclists would be traveling. Other features would include greenway pavement markings throughout the network, dedicated bicycle left turn lanes, stop and yield signs, bicycle signal detectors and posted speed limits for motorists.
Implementing the greenway plan would be a long-term commitment, officials say, depending on the extent to which the wide range of recommendations in the study are adopted. Portions of the plan likely will be incorporated into the Village’s long-range capital improvement program, allowing for a phased-in implementation of the various recommendations as funds allow.
The Village of Oak Park has a long tradition of encouraging safe cycling with bicycle friendly Share the Road signs at all major community entry points, dedicated and shared bicycle lanes on numerous streets and bike racks located throughout the community.
For more information on bicycling in Oak Park and to read the 2008 Bicycle Plan and the new 2014 addendum, visit www.oak-park.us/bicycling.