The Village of Oak Park may give bicyclists, sick of soaked seats and drenched backsides, a reprieve in the next year or two.
Oak Park is applying for federal funding to install covered areas to park bikes in 2012 — most likely near the CTA Green line stations at Ridgeland and Oak Park Avenue. The facilities would look somewhat similar to bus shelters, and would help protect bikes from rain, snow and other elements.
“We have a lot of outdoor bike racks in parking lots and on sidewalks, and we’re looking at consolidating those into a real nice facility for people to park in, to encourage more bike use,” said Village Engineer Jim Budrick.
The village is currently assessing the spots where people like to park their two-wheelers. And those two areas near the train stops seem to be the most highly used — with upwards of 50 bikes parked there each day.
Oak Park plans to submit an application in December, hoping to get grant dollars from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning — a government office that works toward green transportation planning in the Chicago area. The money would come by way of the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program, which is funded by the federal government.
Budrick was uncertain how much money Oak Park might need to install the bike parking facilities, since the village is still doing counts. Oak Park hopes to turn in its application in December, and the funding would be for work done in 2012.
Oak Park is planning other ways to make life easier for bicyclists next year, and is using the same program to nab federal funding. The village is readying creation of dedicated bicycle lanes on both Chicago Avenue and Division, from Harlem to Austin. It’ll cost about $130,000 to put in those bike lanes, and the feds are paying the lion’s share — about $104,000. Shared lane markings will be painted on Augusta next year, too, for $54,000, most of which is covered by the federal grant.
The village will also install new bus shelters across the community next year for $100,000, about 80 percent of which will be picked up by the planning agency. Budrick hopes that the federally funded improvements will be completed in summer 2011.
Bike lanes and shelters were first suggested in Oak Park’s village-wide bicycle plan, which was completed by the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, now the Active Transportation Alliance, in 2008.