River Forest green-lights scaled back bike plan

Fewer signs, costs lowered

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By Robert J. Lifka

Contributing Reporter

River Forest officials gave the green light to a scaled-back version of the village's first-ever bicycle plan at the Nov. 9 virtual village board meeting.

Officials balked when implementation of the plan was introduced at the Oct. 26 board meeting, questioning the number of signs to be installed throughout the village and the wisdom of spending almost $200,000 while the village is facing decreased revenues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the revised version, the number of signs has been decreased from 342 to 199 and the estimated cost from $194,000 to $147,936.

Consensus was reached to move forward with implementation of the scaled-back plan despite two trustees expressing concerns.

Trustee Patty Henek questioned whether residents had been given sufficient opportunities to provide input on the plan but Village President Cathy Adduci said she believed residents were given the chance to offer opinions during the two years the plan has been discussed.

Henek also suggested the plan be implemented in phases with the possibility of reallocating funds from the second phase to cover bicycle-related expenses not included in the plan, including infrastructure such as bike racks, but Village Administrator Eric Palm explained that the village would lose economy of scale by implementing the plan in phases.

Trustee Tom Cargie said he felt there "are still too many signs," echoing comments he made on Oct. 26.

The plan for signs to guide bicyclists along designated routes, create motorist awareness and improve safety at intersections originally included wayfinding signs that would have pointed to destinations such as schools, the town center and the library. Since the key destinations within the village were thought to be widely known by residents the inclusion of wayfinding signage was removed from the plan, Palm explained. 

Bike lane signs, bicycle crossing signs, and turn and decision signs will be placed on existing poles where possible, Palm said. The majority of the plan is located on streets under village jurisdiction as opposed to streets controlled by the Illinois Department of Transportation, such as Thatcher Avenue, Lake Street, Harlem Avenue and North Avenue, he added. 

Implementation will also include the installation of bike lane symbols, arrows and shared lane markings; approximately 5,500 lineal feet of solid white lane line markings, and some pavement marking removals. 

The estimated expense of $147,936 will be partially offset by a $30,735 grant from Cook County obtained with the help of Cook County Commissioner Peter Silvestri (9th), whose district includes River Forest. 

The project is scheduled to be bid this winter with construction planned for spring 2021.

Trustees accepted the recommendation from the Village Sustainability Commission in approving the bicycle plan in July 2019.

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