Bike lanes finally coming to Oak Park

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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

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,, 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."

Reader Comments

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Ron Burke  

Posted: June 1st, 2011 2:17 PM

As a resident of Oak Park since 1995, I know some OPers don't think bike lanes are necessary because we have a good network of side streets with relatively little traffic and/or because it's no big deal biking on primary streets like Division, Washington or Oak Park Ave. I use the side streets, too, but it's tough to avoid the primary streets entirely, and most people are simply too afraid to ride on relatively busy streets. New bike lanes are as much for people who don't bike as for those who already do. The addition of bike lanes won't make the difference for everyone, but it will for some and that's progress. Moreover, research shows that bike lanes reduce crashes for cyclists, pedestrians and drivers alike. These improvements are both accommodating demand for cycling and encouraging it. Cycling has roughly doubled in the last decade - a trend reflected by the increasing number of bikes at train stations, on buses and at shops (even in the winter!). So let's celebrate the fact that OP is making it easier to get around on 2 wheels and getting bikes out of basements, but we shouldn't stop there. With a few changes, Oak Park can be a community where everyone from 8 year old children to 80 year old grandparents feel safe riding a bike. That means bike-preferred side streets where bikes and pedestrians rule and cars are slow-moving "guests," as well as protected bike lanes. Ron Burke Executive Director, Active Transportation Alliance

Bike at Your Own Risk from Oak Park  

Posted: May 31st, 2011 8:36 AM

As an avid cyclist and bicycle commuter, I do not see the purpose of bicycle lanes. Cars routinely ride in the bicycle lanes and drivers do not pay attention to people in the bicycle lanes. Parked cars open their doors onto cyclists. Biking in a suburban/urban environment is dangerous. Adding bicycle lanes makes good headlines, but does little to improve cyclist's safety.

Mr. Borderman from Oak Park  

Posted: May 27th, 2011 3:59 PM

Violet Aura: wow, what a reasoned response. The fact that you instantly and defensively resorted to invective (and gender insult) shows what kind of mind you have: the mind of a spoiled bully. If the copy told you it was OK to ride your tricycle on the sidewalk he was wrong. That's why there are signs up in the Oak Park Avenue / Lake area. If the police aren't enforcing the law, that's a matter than can be addressed with them. In the meantime, walk your bike or get off the sidewalk.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 26th, 2011 7:07 PM

Brian, interesting point. You will now have to watch out carefully for runaway bikes!

OP Resident  

Posted: May 26th, 2011 1:39 PM

VA, Why do you use Oak Parks library and post office? You've said you live in RF.

Violet Aura  

Posted: May 26th, 2011 12:38 PM

Actually, the commenters mentioning OP and Lake don't understand that from what I gather in the article, Augusta and Division are the streets with the markings and I saw Division. While I am glad about it, I did wonder why they chose that street when Lake is in dire need of markings for bikes. It's not enough to say 'go down some other street' when you need to do business on Lake St.: post office, library, etc.

Violet Aura  

Posted: May 26th, 2011 12:34 PM

Cont. The cop said as long as I didn't go fast it was all good. And that is the sensible approach. Don't lump me in with the irresponsible riders! @Brian: Naw, I will just let you pay for it, 'mkay? Sounds good to me. God I love riding a bike! It's so fun to see all these drivers waiting at the light and I can whiz past them all!

Violet Aura  

Posted: May 26th, 2011 12:32 PM

@Mr. Borderman: Nope. I plan to continue doing it when I feel like it, so pull up your Big Girl panties and deal with it, Bub! I don't "endanger" anyone when I do it and it is necessary sometimes on Lake Street, especially if I need to stop on a certain side of the street (and would have to go to the other side unnecessarily), plus during busy times when cars are all over the place and people opening their door absently, risking "dooring" a cyclist. Even a cop saw me and said it was fine as long

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: May 26th, 2011 12:04 PM

I was wondering if bicycle riders are going to pay their fair share of a tax to pave the bicycle lanes. The roads are paved and upkept from motor fuel taxes. Since the bicyclists are now on the the motor fueled taxed road, how much are they going to taxed and how is the tax going to be collected?

Relieved from Oak Park  

Posted: May 25th, 2011 8:15 PM

Yes, of course we will move off the sidewalks and into our designated biking lanes. It was embarrassing to ride on the sidewalk, but better than getting run over. Ah, thank you!

Mr. Borderman from Oak Park  

Posted: May 25th, 2011 5:57 PM

Maybe this will finally get bike riders off the sidewalks, especially in the Oak Park Avenue / Lake Street area, where they daily endanger pedestrians.

Gina Robbins from OP  

Posted: May 25th, 2011 9:47 AM

I'm so grateful for the bike lanes! They define the space in such a way to raise drivers' awareness that a cyclist may be present, while encouraging cyclists to follow safe road practices. Too much traffic is precisely why bike lanes are needed. The bike lanes in downtown Chicago trim much busier traffic corridors (I'm thinking Roosevelt Road from Racine to the Lake, for example), and they work well. Maybe the lanes will encourage Oak Parkers to leave the cars in the garage when possible!


Posted: May 25th, 2011 8:38 AM

I've been very opposed to the bike lanes on Division-there's just too much traffic, especially by Mann School. Are bikers using these new lanes aware that they have to stop at the stop signs when there is traffic coming from all directions? I just never see bikers follow the rules of the road - played chicken last week with a guy who would not stop during the morning rush.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 11:43 PM

Does or any local cycling club support requiring riders to wear helmets? How about for those under 18? They has least experience with bicycling on busy streets.

Elizabeth Ritzman from OP  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 11:42 PM

There are many types of "avid" bikers: the cyclists who bike early in the day, go fast and wear expensive spandex, recreational bikers of all ages who ride for pleasure and the commuters who'd like to survive to see another day at work given that they have to share the road with rush hour. The needs of these groups vary. As a member of the latter group, I can attest that Ridgeland is a great option at 5-6 am but once you hit 7am just crossing that 4 lane highway is scary.

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