After years of delays, the Village of Oak Park at last started painting bike lanes on its streets last week. Division Street, from border to border, is already decked with the markings, and two other streets are getting similar treatments this week.
Oak Park completed a village-wide bicycle plan in 2008. Among the recommendations, the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation suggested that Oak Park slap down bike lanes and add more bike storage space around town.
But as the economy tanked, money dried up, and many of the village's ambitious plans to make Oak Park more "bike friendly" have gone unfulfilled. Earlier this year, though, the village board gave the staff the go-ahead to seek bids for the $180,000 contract to kick start the road markings.
Work on Division wrapped up Friday, while Village Engineer Jim Budrick expects crews to paint bike lanes on Chicago Avenue and shared-lane markings on Augusta. Oak Park is paying for the road markings by way of a $144,000 grant from the federal government.
Oak Park is applying for federal dollars to install covered bike shelters near some of the CTA train stops across the village. Budrick expects to find out this fall whether the village nabbed the dollars, and, if so, the village will have the new facilities installed in summer of 2012.
Over on the social-networking website, LiveHereOakPark.com, people are weighing in with both the positives and negatives of the new bike lanes. User "cac" hopes the small gesture will encourage more people to cycle, writing, "It's not much yet, but hope it helps encourage biking a bit."
On the other side, user "Russ M" thinks the village is bike-friendly enough without the lanes.
"As an avid biker, I didn't really see a need for bike lanes in Oak Park as it already is pretty easy to bike around OP on side streets with very little traffic," he wrote last week. "Us bikers should leave the busy streets to the cars."