As the current president of the Oak Park Cycle Club and a member of the board of the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, I, too, would like to commend Oak Park on the many bike-friendly initiatives it has taken over the past four years. Many of the improvements are due, in large part, to the efforts of the Department of Public Works and its staff, with the support of the village board. That department has brought cyclists many amenities, including bike lockers, bike racks and bike parking signage. Members of the Village Board of Trustees (particularly Trustee Ray Johnson, a former member of the bike club, and Trustee Greg Marsey) have been supportive of initiatives such as CBF’s Bicycling Ambassador program, which teaches safe cycling practices to children.
Last year when the Oak Park Cycle Club approached the police department about assaults upon Oak Park cyclists while commuting into and out of the city of Chicago for work, Chief Tanksley and his staff took the issue seriously enough to meet with members of the club and assigned an officer to investigate and make recommendations for safe commuting practices and to designate safe havens along the commuting routes. (Sadly, planned liaisons between the Chicago PD and Mayor Daley’s office to address this issue have not yet taken place.)
I would be remiss if I did not recognize the contributions by the Oak Park Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and all the wonderful local sponsors (including Wednesday Journal and the Park District of Oak Park) who have given support to the only invitational bike ride (The Wright Ride) in the area that calls Oak Park its home. And not to be forgotten are the efforts of the Energy and Environmental Commission, who initiated the fall Architectural Ride and Car Free Sundays in downtown Oak Park. In addition, there are individuals who have worked tirelessly over the years to educate and advocate for a better cycling environment in and around the Oak Park area.
Despite these contributions and advances, there are areas in need of improvement. First and foremost, Oak Park should incorporate a bike plan in its transportation planning efforts for the village. Wednesday Journal published a letter to the editor four years ago suggesting that Oak Park follow the lead of Evanston in incorporating a bike plan into its overall transportation plan.
Sadly, in all the business district planning efforts that have taken place over the past five years in Oak Park-and they have been excellent efforts-not one plan has incorporated bike lanes or bike transit routes.
Also of significance is that six of District 97’s schools currently prohibit school children from cycling to and from school.
We live in a truly unique community with great amenities, a wonderful history, exceptional public services, and dedicated and engaged citizens. Let’s take the next step and initiate a bike plan for Oak Park. We might just find that incorporating cycling routes throughout the village will lead to reduced traffic, calmer traffic, reduced automobile parking demand, and ultimately a more enjoyable, walkable, and bikeable community.