Mount Prospect officials believe they've taken the first step, or pedal, toward making the village a more bicycle-friendly town.
The village board has approved a bicycle plan -- a guide that sets goals and establishes strategies for making bike use easier and more convenient throughout Mount Prospect.
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"We look at this plan as a toolbox," Senior Planner Clare O'Shea said. "It clarifies our overall vision with regard to bicycle use, and it puts us in a better position to acquire federal grants for bike-related improvements in the future."
The plan identifies a number of ways in which getting more residents to ride their bikes will benefit Mount Prospect. Among the stated benefits:
• Cycling is good for the environment and personal health.
• It reduces car traffic and expenses associated with driving.
• It encourages residents to shop downtown and other local spots.
To realize those benefits, the plan recommends that the village create a comprehensive biking network in town. A network could have signed bike routes, shared-lane markings on certain village streets and increased connections to the village's commuter train station, among other amenities.
"The point of the network is to make it as easy and as safe as possible for cyclists to ride through the village," O'Shea said.
The plan also calls for programs that promote the benefits of cycling while also educating the public on safety and the rules of the road.
Mount Prospect staff members drafted the plan with the help of the Active Transportation Alliance and Sam Schwartz Engineering, both based in Chicago. The plan was funded by a federal grant, and O'Shea stressed the village would pursue grant funds for any bike-related improvements made under the plan.
Mount Prospect resident Paula Matzek, a bicycle enthusiast for more than 20 years, is delighted that the village adopted the plan.
"Some neighboring towns have already done this, and I'm sure others will be looking at it in the future," Matzek said. "I'm so glad we're getting on board, too."
A draft of the bike plan is available on the village's website, mountprospect.org.