To close a budget deficit in 2009, the village board is proposing holding off on implementing Oak Park’s bicycle plan in 2009.

Trustees are suggesting deferring the village’s newly unveiled bicycle plan, which would save $105,000 in 2009. The village board adopted the bike plan last month. Its first phase would include painting shared-lane markings on Lake Street, North and South boulevards and East Avenue. Such markings would signal motorists to share the street with cyclists.

But with a $650,000 deficit in the village’s capital improvement fund, trustees recently suggested holding off on the bike plan to save money next year.

Village President David Pope advocated for keeping the first phase of the bike plan in line for 2009, while Trustee Ray Johnson and others urged cutting it to save costs.

“In tough times, it feels like a luxury,” said Trustee Greg Marsey. He suggested the money could perhaps be obtained through fundraising. “It feels like an extravagance we really can’t afford.”

Another $10,000 is slated to go towards installing new bicycle racks throughout the village, which trustees seemed willing to keep in the plan for 2009.

“The bike racks, I think, are a really important part of the plan,” said Public Works Director John Wielebnicki.

State and federal grants are another way to pay for the bike plan. However, Wielebnicki says gaining those grants is a lengthy process, which could take more than two years to complete. It includes applying, submitting a design for the work needed, and seeking bids to do the work, he said.

However, that doesn’t mean the bike plan won’t be put into play for two to three years, he added. If the village’s financial pictures improves, and tax revenues pick up, then Oak Park could fund the bike plan through local sources. Those include the motor fuel tax and a portion of the sales tax.

The board also proposed cutting out a couple other items to help close the $650,000 gap. Trustees sliced out the repaving of six alleys next year to save $400,000. They also proposed removing $50,000 from the budget for “traffic calming measures.” That money was used this year to install temporary speed bumps on East Avenue for $18,000.

Wielebnicki emphasized that the board has yet to finalize next year’s budget, which is scheduled to happen Nov. 24. It’s still possible the board could find savings elsewhere and the bike plan could still be funded by the village in 2009, he said.

The Chicagoland Bicycle Federation prepared Oak Park’s bicycle plan over the past year, at a cost of about $30,000. Wielebnicki is passionate about the village’s bicycle plan, and says one of the biggest hurdles was getting one together.

“I’m not disappointed that it’s not moving forward,” he said. “I understand that there are other priorities, but I’m confident that, that we’ll be able to implement it at some point in the future.”

Join the discussion on social media!