Click here to see a map of the bike plan.

After having it locked up for a year, the Village of Oak Park is hoping in 2010 to wheel out the first phase of its plan to make the village a better place to bike.

That will mean Oak Park painting three of its major east-west bike routes -Augusta, Division and Chicago – with markings to make it easier for cyclists to travel around town.

Oak Park originally hoped to do the work in 2009, but put the breaks on that plan in late 2008 to save money in the face of a budget crisis. Paul Aeschleman, an Oak Park resident and cyclist, is happy to see the village taking the plan back out of storage.

“They took a year off, I didn’t agree with that, but now they’re moving forward, which is a positive sign,” said Aeschleman, a 15-year village resident and head of the Oak Park Transportation Commission, who took part in putting the plan together “Those are three high-priority, high-value routes.”

Oak Park plans to paint “bike lanes” from border to border on both Division and Chicago, pathways on the right side of the street that are just for bicycles. The village will also paint “shared lane” markings along Augusta that are used by both cars and bikes.

Painting those lanes is estimated to cost $150,000, says Village Engineer Jim Budrick. The work will be funded by a $180,000 federal grant, which is administered by the state. Oak Park hopes that Illinois will be able to seek bids for the work in July so it can get done sometime this year. If not, it will likely be pushed back to next year.

Budrick hopes to have plans in to the state by the end of this month. The extra $30,000 from the “Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program” will go toward putting together those plans.

Oak Park also has a $25,000 state grant in hand, which it will use for installing signs throughout the village, pointing cyclists to local attractions – parks, schools, libraries, etc. Budrick hopes to seek bids for that work tomorrow, March 11.

The village adopted its bicycle plan in October 2008. It was put together by the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, starting in the summer of 2007, as a way to make Oak Park a better place for cyclists. It envisioned a village-wide system of bike paths, stretching some 20 miles.

The village estimated in 2008 that it would cost about $3.29 million to implement the plan over a span of 10 years. Budrick next hopes to paint lanes on some north-south streets; the plan called for roads such as East and Oak Park avenues to get bike lanes. The village will look for more state and federal grants to help fund that work, he said.

“I’m glad to see it’s moving forward,” Aeschleman said. “I didn’t think they’d get this much done in 2010, but they seem to be very focused on getting some stuff finished this year, and that’s a positive.”

CONTACT: mstempniak@wjinc.com

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Just bike it: This is an early version of what Oak Park’s bike network may look like according to the bike master plan developed by the village and the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation in 2008.

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