Oak Park has installed "loop detectors" that can detect the presence of a bike and cause the stoplights to turn green more quickly if a bicyclist is waiting to cross.
These loops, which are 6-by-6-foot loops of wires that give off a magnetic signal, detect steel and are usually stationed on small roads that cross busy streets, said Village Engineer Jim Budrick. Look for them at the crossings of East Avenue and Madison Street, East Avenue and Randolph Street, East Avenue and Lake Street and finally Augusta Boulevard and Ridgeland Avenue, McKenna said. River Forest also has loop detectors for cars, although they do not detect bikes, Kramer said.
On recently paved roads, the loop detectors are marked with a bicycle and two dashes to show how to line up your bike. On older roads, look for two rectangles cut into the road and a sign showing how to work the loop detectors.
Since these detectors also detect cars waiting to cross, it's harder to set them off with a bike. Position the bike between the two detectors. If the stoplight doesn't turn green within 30 seconds, push the pedestrian walk signals.
Loop detectors are becoming more popular but they aren't universal yet. "You're going to find them in a bike-friendly community. You're not going to find them everywhere," McKenna said. For a complete list of loop detectors, bike racks and bike paths in Oak Park, see the Oak Park Cycle Club website at www.oakparkcycleclub.org.
Setting a good example at village hall
The Village of Oak Park loves cyclists. And they're not just saying that.
"We want as many people to use alternative transportation as possible," said Jim Budrick, the village engineer in Oak Park. "That helps everything, pollution-wise, traffic-wise, parking-wise. The more people we can get on bikes, the better."
They're setting a good example. The Village of Oak Park won their category of the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation's "Commuter Challenge" this year, as they have for four out of the last five years.
The Commuter Challenge is a contest between 95 companies to see which one can get the most employees to bike instead of drive to work in a given week. From June 11-17 this year, 23 Oak Park village employees biked to work, which brought them to the top of the comparably-sized public agencies that participated.
Over 1,250 people participated in 2005, a 27-percent increase since 2004, according to the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation website. "Each year it grows and the competition gets a little stiffer," McKenna said.