District 97 should have bike racks in front of schools

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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As a bike rider who does not own a car, I'm very pleased to see all kinds of progress regarding bicycles in Oak Park, such as signage which says, "Share the Road," bike lanes on some streets and an increasing number of bike racks throughout the village.

There is one exception to the last item. There are some District 97 schools that do not have bike racks. As a visitor to those schools, either for my work as a substitute teacher or attending a musical performance of my granddaughter's or attending a community meeting, I find it extremely difficult to park my bike, which needs to be chained to something. Sometimes, if I am lucky, I can find a sign post to use to lock my bike.

I object to the fact that some schools do not have bike racks for the following reasons:

1) Oak Park claims to be "bike friendly." This should apply to all public buildings in the village.

2) There is a general concern for air quality in our area. If more people were encouraged to ride bicycles, the air quality would improve.

3) There is a general concern for the health of our citizens. Everyone is being encouraged to get more exercise. It would be great if more people could walk or bike to destinations in Oak Park.

4) There are parking lots for cars but not always accommodations for bicycles. It doesn't seem fair.

Because I feel so strongly about this issue, I attended a D97 school board meeting last fall. The school board members and superintendent listened politely to the points that I made, as above, but then decided not to act on installing bike racks at every school. The reason given was that the presence of bike racks would encourage children to ride their bikes to school. This is perceived as unsafe for children and creates a theft issue at the school.

I was surprised and chagrined because I had made it very clear at the meeting that I was talking only about bike racks for adult visitors or workers at the school, not for children. What I have in mind is a small, unobtrusive bike rack which would hold 8-10 bicycles. I believe these could be installed in discreet locations, so as not to disturb the visual characteristics of the schools.

I invite other bike riders or potential bike riders to join me in becoming more vocal about this basic need in our village.

Elizabeth Rexford

Retired D97 teacher

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Elizabeth Rexford from Oak Park  

Posted: May 20th, 2014 12:23 PM

"In November, Superintendent Roberts directed the district's buildings and grounds department to make sure that each of our schools has at least one bike racks available for use by staff members and visitors. At this time, five of our elementary schools and both of our middle schools have at least one bike rack on site. The remainder of the racks will be installed at our buildings this summer." Bob Spatz, Pres. Dist 97 Board

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