Oak Park says it may be years before it adds north-south bike lanes

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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

After years of delays, Oak Park finally added some east-west bicycle lanes on Division Street this year. But it could be years before the community gets any north-south routes to connect to Division, say village officials.

Oak Park completed a village-wide bicycle plan in 2008. Among the recommendations, the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation suggested that Oak Park add bike lanes and 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 apply road markings on Division, as well as Augusta.

Now, as Oak Park is preparing its budget for 2012, officials are figuring out what features from the bike plan it wants to adopt next year. It's unlikely that any lanes will be added in 2012 though. Some type of lane markings are slated for both Ridgeland and Oak Park Avenue, but village hall plans to wait until those streets are repaved in 2013 and 2019, respectively, according to Village Engineer Jim Budrick.

The bike plan also suggested that Oak Park add "bike boulevards," geared more toward cyclists than motorists, on north-south streets such as Home and Lombard. That would go with proposed east-west boulevards on Lemoyne, Erie, Pleasant and Harvard.

Budrick said it's possible those streets could see bike boulevards sooner because they're locally controlled and could be changed more easily.

"We have more jurisdiction when we're working on local streets," he said. "When we start working on major streets like Ridgeland and Oak Park, those are federal highways, so we have a lot more hoops to jump through."

Budrick said that Ellen McKenna, a civil engineer for the village and staff liaison to Oak Park's Bike Plan Advisory Committee, is figuring out what parts of the bike plan the village wants to tackle next. McKenna could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Oak Parker Maryjo Flint, 55, was concerned when she recently heard that parking might be lost on Ridgeland for bike paths. She hopes the village does everything possible to communicate to residents when any upgrades might be coming down the pipeline.

Oak Park recently received a $250,000 grant from the federal government, which it's using to install three sheltered bike parking stations around the village. They'll be placed near the Green Line stop at North Boulevard and Marion, along with the Blue Line stations on East Avenue and Oak Park Avenue, Budrick said.

The stations cost about $30,000 apiece, while the extra costs are for engineering drawings, concrete pads and electrical work around them. Budrick expects the stations to be built near the Blue Line in 2013, and the Green Line in 2014.

Reader Comments

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I ride in Oak Park  

Posted: August 19th, 2011 5:53 PM

And after the village spends thousands to put in superfluous bike lanes, Oak Parkers will still probably ride their bikes on the sidewalks. LOL...

Not on board from Oak Park  

Posted: August 19th, 2011 11:22 AM

Sorry but this plan needs to be announced again with all the implications that it will effect. No need to rush this plan at all. Everyone can ride their bikes now on the streets anyway, people need to follow the rules, putting in marked lanes is not going to change anything. But changing parking in this town is a major issue!

Pedal More  

Posted: August 18th, 2011 8:48 PM

To any Oak Park trustees or staff with input on this issue: please hurry up and get the bike lanes put in. Those of us who ride every day of the year appreciate what you have done so far, and we hope you will quickly finish implementing the Village's bike plan.


Posted: August 18th, 2011 7:49 PM

Oak Park and Lake, my point was more with regard to, say, trying to find parking on the northside of Chicago and perhaps parking, 5 or 9 blocks away from your door like my friends do. Or having to move your car during the day because your landlord rents your space out. lol We have more in common with the city than we do the outlying suburbs. Living in an urban area it's reasonable to expect parking will be expensive and probably a long walk. And that's fine. I don't want to live in Hinsdale. :-)

Oak Park and Lake from Oak Park  

Posted: August 18th, 2011 5:27 PM

Kyle, most areas in Chicagoland allow street parking. Oak Park is the exception. There's very little in the way of parking, and it has little to do with social engineering/being green. Getting people to pay for parking permits generates a lot of revenue. Second, I love my car, but I'd love to not have to drive it every day to work. The reality is that there is no way for me to get to work without my car. I do have a love affair with having a roof over my head though, so I'll continue to drive.

Violet Aura  

Posted: August 18th, 2011 4:16 PM

I hereby declare the following: 1. I will continue to ride on the sidewalk. Glare, do the passive-aggressive thing where you don't give me an inch, Bring. It. I am so doing it. I need to for certain things. 2. Get out of your cars, OPers! Stop being fake tree-hugging liberals and then drive your car to go <2 miles.


Posted: August 18th, 2011 3:33 PM

@Brendan: I do ride my bike (rode it to the office today as a matter of fact) but I still want to retain parking in front of my house. Removing parking in front of a house on a busy street WILL negatively impact the home value. Our neighbors an elderly relatives and we have family members with serious health issues that are not able to cross busy O.P. Ave. I don't care how many stripes they paint I won't ride my bike on O.P. Ave. Never have. Don't intend to.


Posted: August 18th, 2011 3:26 PM

Parking on private property is very different from parking on the public right-of-way though. I find it interesting how many people expect street parking in a densely populated suburb like ours. Possibly an unreasonable expectation. I think the larger point about bikes/parking is whether or not cars should get special treatment. We perhaps have too much of a love affair with our cars.

Phil of Ideas  

Posted: August 18th, 2011 1:23 PM

When in doubt, a local realtor will say anything/everything will make it more difficult to sell your home.

M on Ridgeland from Oak Park  

Posted: August 18th, 2011 1:05 PM

I would also like to know if any current board members are reading these posts and would like to comment?

M on Ridgeland from Oak Park  

Posted: August 18th, 2011 12:58 PM

Jim - I did ask a realtor just that same question. Yes, it will make it harder to sell due to access to your home. People look at where they can park their cars and park to unload from their cars to the home. Plus, homes already are harder to sell just by being on a busy street in the first place.

Eilene McCullagh Heckman  

Posted: August 18th, 2011 12:51 PM

@Brendan Yes...I ride my bike...but I don't expect people visiting me from out of town to ride their bikes from...say...Iowa. And for anything bulky or over 40lbs...your average biker can't manage it on a bicycle. And it's kind of nice for say...UPS, the USPS...to actually be able to park on the street they're delivering to. Parking in Oak Park is already a bit of a nightmare...let's not make it any worse.

M on Ridgeland from Oak Park  

Posted: August 18th, 2011 12:49 PM

@Brendan- There are a lot of people who cannot ride bikes due to health or maybe age reasons. Your comment is great if this was a perfect world. Be in reality we use all sorts of transportation and I want to be able to park in front of my home. You must not own a home or car.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: August 18th, 2011 12:44 PM

Anne raises an interesting question. Does not being able to park on the street in front of your home have any effect on marketability or property value? A local realtor should be able to provide an answer.


Posted: August 18th, 2011 10:50 AM

To everyone that is concerned that street parking would be depleted if there were bike lanes here is another perspective. If there were enough bike lanes, then there would not be a need for street parking. Ride your bike people.


Posted: August 17th, 2011 10:55 PM

I live on Oak Park Ave. near Division and ride my bike to work. However I am opposed to the bike lanes on Oak Park Avenue because the single family homes on our side of the street will lose their parking spots. I would never have bought our house on such a busy street had parking been prohibited in front. Drivers routinely speed & I have seen several horrific car accidents. I never ride my bike on Oak Park Ave. and a dedicated lane would not change my mind.

M on Ridgeland from Oak Park  

Posted: August 17th, 2011 4:58 PM

It saddens me that we have to spend money to mark bike lanes in the first place. Yes, we have lousey drivers and cyclists who do not follow the rules of the road. I am afraid these lanes will not change anything and then we loose valuable parking. Also, some of the new board members do not even know the total scope of this bike plan as it was done in 2006-2008. Business as usual in OP!

Oak Park and Lake from Oak Park  

Posted: August 17th, 2011 4:06 PM

I inferred that you were justifying irresponsible behavior by bike riders because motorists do the same thing. My fault. I didn't know what else to take from that because I didn't see any motorists trying to "justify their own dangerous and unlawful behavior" because of cyclists.

I ride in Oak Park  

Posted: August 17th, 2011 3:59 PM

Wow - So much hatred toward cyclists. Angry drivers please get your heads out of your rears.

epic lulz  

Posted: August 17th, 2011 3:21 PM

"I don't think arguing that "motor vehicles don't stop, so why should bikes" makes much sense." Good. Neither do I. As anyone who carefully reads what I wrote can discern, I never made such an argument. But thanks for offering the most popular strawman so that I could counter it right away. Next!


Posted: August 17th, 2011 3:03 PM

Cyclists are already encouraged to report reckless drivers. A little more difficult to report reckless cyclists, but I think bicyclists should get tickets just the same. Other communities have methods in place to keep track of and file complaints even if it is just to better police intersections that have regular problems. Anybody from Oak Park Police reading? Maybe something can be put in place. I have a few suggestions from the pedestrian point of view, too.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: August 17th, 2011 2:55 PM

epic - I've said it before and I'll say it again. Do you have kids? A wife? Parents? And if someone you love gets run over by someone who fails to stop to look for pedestrians FIRST, will you shrug your shoulders and call it an "accident"? I doubt it. IT'S THE LAW. Damn right I'm angry - at idiots who swear at me with their kids in the car because they almost ran me over. I won't be the one who kills someone.

Oak Park and Lake from Oak Park  

Posted: August 17th, 2011 2:40 PM

Epic, I don't think arguing that "motor vehicles don't stop, so why should bikes" makes much sense. Everyone needs to follow the rules of the road and enforcement should be uniform for all wheeled vehicles. Having said that, when was the last time you saw a police officer giving a ticket to a bike rider? Also, I am both a bike rider and driver of a motor vehicle, so I have some appreciation of both sides.

epic lulz  

Posted: August 17th, 2011 2:31 PM

I'm sick of idiot drivers complaining about cyclists running stop signs to justify their own dangerous and unlawful behavior. Watch any intersection in OP for more than a few minutes, and you'll discover that everyone rolls through stop signs, automobiles and bicycles alike. Everyone. "Done" has a serious anger management problem that he needs to take care of before he kills someone.

Oak Park and Lake from Oak Park  

Posted: August 17th, 2011 2:27 PM

Don from Oak Park, it would also be nice if bike riders in the street followed the rules as well. Just like any other wheeled vehicle, bike riders must follow the rules of the road but most don't. Bike riders need to ride single-file, move to right to allow faster traffic to pass, stop at stop signs and traffic lights, obey right-of-way, signaling for turns and stops, etc. Bike riders think they own the road. They often put themselves in more danger due to their reckless disregard for the rules.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: August 17th, 2011 2:13 PM

Don - just curious. How often do you stop for stop signs? I know you're thinking that this has nothing to do with your comment, but it has everything to do with it. Those that complain about people who almost run them over while they are biking are the same people who don't stop for stop signs and actually LOOK for someone in the intersection before rolling into traffic to see if cars are coming. STOP MEANS STOP - NOT YIELD!

Eilene McCullagh Heckman  

Posted: August 17th, 2011 1:12 PM

I bicycle around town. As much as I like the IDEA of bike lanes...I do not like the idea of trading street parking for bike lanes on streets like Ridgeland or East Avenue. There's already parking issues on East Avenue on Sundays. And a lot of Ridgeland is bordered with East-West business districts. And more bike storage? What? There's plenty of bicycle parking in Oak Park...any additional parking should be provided by the businesses that will be served...or the Chamber of Commerce. How about using that money for policing at the existing bicycle parking? Right now the lot by the Metra is a buffet for bicycle thieves. Same thing with some of the out of the way bike racks around downtown. I do bike on the main roads in Oak Park...but usually only at night because they're well lit...and populated. Encouraging people to take side streets at night is encouraging people to get mugged. Responsible bicyclists will be able to get around town regardless of fancy lanes or expensive covered parking.

Don from Oak Park  

Posted: August 17th, 2011 1:10 PM

Lori, I'm not saying your unruly teen shouldn't have given way but there is no helmet (or earbud) law in OP and if you're <15 you can ride on the sidewalks. I say let's start enforcing/teaching motorists about the fact that cyclists are in fact allowed to ride in the street, even take up the whole lane if needed. Signs that have gone up recently are a start but I can't tell you how many SUVs have tried to mow me and my daughter down apparently thinking that they are somehow 'special'.

Aware from Oak Park  

Posted: August 17th, 2011 12:28 PM

L. Armstrong from Oak Park, you are right on center with your opinion of bike lanes. They are dangerous, and create a sense to a biker that they don't have to watch out for traffic.

Lori M  

Posted: August 17th, 2011 10:53 AM

Another opportunity to repeat my mantra:I feel that biking laws need to be enforced. I was nearly mowed down by a teenager riding fast on the sidewalk, with no helmet and earbuds.

L. Armstrong from Oak Park  

Posted: August 17th, 2011 9:43 AM

I bike to the Ridgeland CTA station everyday from Lombard and Greenfield. But I would never think to go down Ridgeland, even with a bike lane. There are an ambundance of side streets that are much more pleasant and much less busy than Ridgeland. The same goes for Division and Augusta. Bike lanes are utterly superfluous in Oak Park - just someone's vanity project in the name of green PR. Makes about at much sense as an $80,000 bike rack.


Posted: August 17th, 2011 9:31 AM

The signs around town and new bike lanes are a good start, but we still have a long way to go. The Village needs to put such basics as good pedestrian/bike safety & access on the fast track. There's no reason we couldn't get better crosswalks and bike routes in 2012-2013. It's only a matter of time before the failure to do so kills someone. That said, why try to send bike traffic on busier routes like Ridgeland/Oak Park Ave? Makes no sense. Keep cyclists to quieter streets.

M on Ridgeland from Oak Park  

Posted: August 17th, 2011 8:35 AM

Plus most of my neighbors do not even know about this bike plan and what it will impact in the first place. Our alley is in terrible shape, we can't park during snowstorms over 2 inches and now we may loose parking all together. Feels like another possible slap in the face. This plan should somehow be notified to the residents it is most going to affect by the Village. Maybe a mailing to those homes.?

M on Ridgeland from Oak Park  

Posted: August 17th, 2011 8:26 AM

Residents better take a look at this bike plan on the village web site. Not only is it stated that Ridgeland is going to loose parking on one side, but East ave is possibly under the same thing.(Alternate plan) It should be shared parking-bike on Ridgeland. (Which it is now if you think about it.) Our block has alot of people who park on Ridgeland to go to the merchants on Harrison, where are they to park? I know this is grant money for this project, but find it a waste during these hard times

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