Wheaton City Council will vote next month on a comprehensive, long-term bike plan which would be a template for future improvements to the city's biking system, including increased signage, maps and bike racks downtown.
Representatives from the city and the Active Transportation Alliance, a Chicagoland organization that advocates better biking, walking and public transit, presented the plan for Wheaton at a City Council planning session Monday. The plan included:
- A citywide bike network that includes "safe cycling" roads;
- Changes to city policies and ordinances to consider all roadway users, including cyclists;
- Education and encouragement for cyclists, including maps and participation in "Bike to Work" week;
- And enforcement of roadway laws, as cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as all other roadway users.
Susan Wallace, special projects assistant for the City of Wheaton told Council a bike plan committee that included representatives from the city, the DuPage County Forest Preserve, the Wheaton Park District and Community Unit School District 200 met in June 2010 and November 2011 to create the comprehensive plan.
The committee discussed Wheaton's hot spots as potential destinations for cyclists, challenges to Wheaton's current biking conditions and ideas for improvement, said Marissa Dolin, transportation planner for Active Transportation Alliance.
Dolin said having a bike plan would make it easier for DuPage County, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the DuPage County Forest Preserve to coordinate regional trail improvements and for the city to leverage grant funding to implement the plan.
Wallace said the city has already been approved for two grants totaling $225,200, from the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) program through the Chicago Metro Agency of Planning (CMAP). The grant would fund the top three priorities identified in the plan, including route signage, maps and bike racks, Wallace said.
To officially receive the grant, the city would be required to commit to pay for 20 percent of the grant—about $45,000—from its budget, said Wallace. CMAQ would then fund the additional $180,160 in project costs.
Wallace said the first priority in establishing the plan would be to sign the city's bike routes. "Right now we have some sort of signage, but not enough," she said. The routes would direct people to destinations the steering committee identified as important, such as downtown Wheaton, the Wheaton Public Library and Danada.
The second priority would be to create maps for cyclists and the third priority would be to add bike racks downtown.
In addition to designating bike routes, Dolin said striping on residential streets could be a de facto bike lane, and a shared marking on the road would show cyclists where they can bike, while reminding drivers to be aware of cyclists.
She added the plan would "support safe door-to-destination bike trips," and include travel planning for Wheaton schools.
During public comment Wheaton resident Mark Kmiecik said in order for the bike plan to be successful, he thinks it should include paths from Wheaton schools to most of its major neighborhoods.
“My kids go to (Wheaton) North and there is no really good way to go to North on a bike… In order for this to be successful... it has to have some practical use for the community, particularly, I think, the children," Kmiecik said.
Wheaton Councilman Todd Scalzo said the bike plan is a good thing. "It keeps us on par and up to date with other communities," he said. "I like that it qualifies us for additional federal and state funding, which I think is one of our goals... attracting funding from outside sources to ease the burden on our residents here where possible."
City Manager Don Rose said staff will prepare an amendment to the city's comprehensive bike plan and recommend a vote at the next City Council meeting Monday, Feb. 6.