Other suburbs follow Glenview, Northbrook's lead adopting new biking, pedestrian plans

  • Bike riders enjoy the North Branch Trail in Harms Woods area near Glenview.

      Bike riders enjoy the North Branch Trail in Harms Woods area near Glenview. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 
Posted3/24/2022 1:00 AM

"Plan your work. Work your plan."

Prudent advice no matter what you attempt. Even wiser if you "make no little plans," as urban architect Daniel Burnham once said. Improving Chicago area bicycling happens to involve "no little plans."

 

Despite the shutdown, suburban municipalities and counties have taken Burnham's advice to heart, adopting, nearly completing or initiating bike (and pedestrian) plans in the pandemic's 21 months.

Maggie Czerwinski, Suburban Advocacy manager for Active Trans, (Active Transportation Alliance), affirms that an active transportation plan is important for multiple reasons. It sets a goal/vision, engages the community, helps prioritize improvements and surfaces new community biking/pedestrian leaders.

"A bike plan should make the work of municipal staff and advocates easier to source funding, prioritize projects and push for implementation. A plan can help secure funding for specific projects. Many grants require or strongly recommend that projects be based on a local or regional community-informed plan."

Seven Plans Launching Lisle adopted a Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan in October 2020. Wilmette followed with its Master Bike and Active Transportation Plan this past March. In July, the city of Elmhurst Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan was approved replacing the 2011 plan.

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According to Northbrook's website, in 2017, the village initiated a new Master Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan to serve as a blueprint for building a more bikeable, walkable Northbrook; it was accepted by the village board in July 201. The plan includes infrastructure and policy recommendations, policy ideas and how the plan will be incorporated elsewhere, such as the annual capital improvement budget. For details, visit northbrook.il.us.

Bike Glenview is a communitywide initiative designed to promote biking as healthy, cost-effective and environmentally friendly. The initiative is made possible through a cooperative effort between the village, Glenview Park District, Glenview Library, Glenview Chamber of Commerce, and the Glenview Natural Resources Commission. There are events every year, including a green infrastructure tour; riders will find a bike repair station at Gallery Park and maps of several routes for all ages and abilities at glenviewparks.org/bike-glenview.

Continued Advocacy Critical

As exciting as new biking/pedestrian plans are, caution is in order.

"Plans can collect dust," Czerwinski observes. "Continued advocacy is often an important ingredient to ensure the plan is implemented and local government is held accountable to their plan."

To that end Wilmette's plan provides for annual staff level reviews and a public comment period at a Transportation Commission meeting. Elmhurst's plan calls for a city staffer to serve as Pedestrian and Bicycle coordinator, managing plan implementation and launching a citizen advisory group to vet projects and ensure consistency with plan implementation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Bob Hoel, Active Trans and Ride Illinois board member, adds, "The 2011 Elmhurst plan did not have such a person. What implementation was done was done through existing public works staff and the Public Affairs Committee of the council. The result: not much was done."

"The commitment of the mayor and council to implementation," Hoel urges, "will be dependent on the creation of an Advisory Group and making sure that implementation funds are included in future budgets."

• Staff writer Melynda Shamie contributed to this report.

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