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Public transit users take 30 percent more steps and spend roughly eight more minutes walking each day than drivers.

Suburban communities pedal forward on better bikeways

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Last year, Active Trans worked with hundreds of members and supporters throughout the City of Chicago to develop our vision for the future of biking in the city, called Bikeways for All.

This summer we’re building off of that work and compiling all the best practices and priorities for improving biking in Suburban Chicago.  

Our Suburban Bikeways for All report will lay the foundation for the future of our bikeways advocacy in our region’s diverse suburban communities.

We’re excited to share our report with you later this summer, but in the meantime, we wanted to give you a taste of all the great developments happening with bicycling in Chicago’s suburbs.

Active Trans, with leadership from our members and supporters, has played a role in the many successes listed here and we plan to continue working towards a stronger bike network for all in Chicago’s suburban communities.

 

South Suburbs and Northwest Indiana

Trail Extensions: Trail connectivity and access to the trail network is an important component of our Suburban Bikeways for All campaign. 

  • A new multi-use path along the Calumet-Sag Channel is in the works for Chicago’s Southern Suburbs. The western portion of the Cal-Sag trail, spanning 15 miles from Lemont to Alsip opened last year, and the eastern portion from Blue Island to Burnham will open in 2017, completing the 30-mile trail. 
  • The Thorn Creek Trail and Old Plank Road Trail extensions opened late last year — a major milestone for trail connectivity. The two trails now connect to each other also fill in a missing piece of the 500-mile Grand Illinois Trail. 

These new trails offer safe and comfortable off-road options for cyclists — great alternatives for riders uncomfortable with riding on streets with vehicle traffic.

Stronger policies and plans: Southern Suburban Cook County has made important steps forward by passing Complete Streets policies and creating Active Transportation Plans in communities. 

  • Because of this successful planning, places like the Village of Park Forest are working to install bike lanes and sharrows, or shared-lane markings. 
  • In 2013, Active Trans worked with Lowell, Indiana to create a bike plan. Since the plan was released, Lowell has adopted a Complete Streets policy, installed countless bike racks throughout the community and is involved in the regional trails discussion.

New map for Northwest Indiana: Active Trans is also active in Northwest Indiana and was hired by the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC) to update its bike map for the region, which was just recently released. Since the release of the old map, Northwest Indiana has seen a numerous trail additions, making the region more bike-friendly than ever.

 

North Suburbs

New bike lanes: New bike lanes are being installed across the North Suburbs.

  • The City of Des Plaines recently installed bike lanes on Central Ave. to access the Des Plaines River Trail. 
  • Hoffman Estates is working to implement its Comprehensive Bicycle Plan, completed in 2014, by building bike lanes. 
  • Highland Park’s Bike-Walk Plan prioritizes developing bike routes on low-stress streets, creating new local and regional trail connections, pursuing traffic calming measures and increasing kids walking and biking to schools. 

Active Trans works with these and other communities every day to encourage the creation of bike networks that are safe and comfortable for all.  

Local organizing: In addition to assisting individual communities, our suburban Active Transportation Councils meet regularly to identify regional priorities. 

  • The Northwest Active Transportation Council, headed by Peter Szabo of Arlington Heights, came together around the idea to open a temporary bike lane to Busse Woods during tollway construction that negatively affected bike traffic. The group sent a letter to the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority (ISTHA) explaining the issue and how it was affecting their community and ISTHA agreed to build the bike lane! 
  • Since this win, the Northwest Council has been publishing letters to the editor, promoting active transportation, and tackling the critical issue of safe bike and pedestrian road crossings. 
  • Join the Northwest Suburban Active Transportation Council today! Email Nancy at nancy@activetrans.org to get involved.

 

West Suburbs

Trail groundbreaking: The trail system in the Western Suburbs of Chicago is very strong, offering many opportunities to residents for recreation, exercise and commuting. 

  • Construction on a new pedestrian bridge over County Farm Rd. in Hanover Park recently began, which is a big win for trail connectivity in the community. The bridge will connect Mallard Lake and Hawk Hollow Forest Preserve and provide a much needed link in the 35-mile North Central DuPage Regional Trail. 
  • The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County is a major player in this project and its is currently overseeing construction, which should be completed by this winter.

Local organizing: Active Trans is working to make the network stronger by advocating for new trails, strengthening access to the trails, and making sure trails are properly maintained. 

  • The West Suburban Active Transportation Council, led by Lombard’s Public Works Director Carl Goldsmith, is focusing on trail connections and access in DuPage County. The group will be stronger than ever after merging with fellow bike advocacy group, Trails Linking Communities.
  • Join the West Suburban Active Transportation Council today! Email Nancy at nancy@activetrans.org to get involved.

 

Stay tuned for more information about this work in our Suburban Bikeways for All report, due out later this summer.