The village of Arlington Heights recently launched a plan that will make cyling to everyday destinations safer and easier.
Lead by the village's Bike and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, this is a third-generation bike plan, updating versions from 1988 and 1996.
Major priorities include making cycling more comfortable for all people of all ages, connecting with neighboring communities and identifying ways to make crossing arterial roads easier so cyclists can get to grocery stores and other daily stops safely.
Funded by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency For Planning (CMAP), planners are looking at existing conditions and will engage the community through interviews, community visioning and an interactive website.
According to CMAP, "The pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly downtown and neighboring residential areas are unfortunately surrounded by arterial roads with little or no bicycle accommodations and an inconsistent or incomplete sidewalk network...Safe crossings for bicyclists and pedestrians are often absent."
CMAP expects to complete the plan by the spring of 2015.
Support for biking in Arlington Heights is clear, but the village faces a common challenge: funding.
As mentioned in a recent article in the Daily Herald, many of the surrounding communities -- like Palatine, Mount Prospect, Wheeling and Des Plaines -- have already adopted and begun implementing bicycle and pedestrian transportation plans.
Over the years, Arlington Heights has done much to improve biking in the community. In addition to good bike maps (north and south), the village has installed bike parking throughout the town and at the Metra station.
This summer the Arlington Heights Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committtee launched its first community event to introduce residents to safe routes and to encourage more riding. Also, the Arlington Heights Bike Club offers rides for people of all levels, and it sponsors a legendary bike swap as well as other events.
And now it's time for the next step. "Biking is just a great, fun way to get around," said Peter Szabo, chair of the Arlington Heights Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committtee. "It's a more active way of getting around the community; we just want to promote that choice of transportation."