Carol Stream bicycling enthusiast seeks on-street bike trails
Avid bicycle enthusiast Robert Guico likes to pedal around his Carol Stream neighborhood and the surrounding towns on two wheels as often as he can — sometimes to and from work, running errands, or just taking a joy ride.
In an attempt to promote a "friendlier" environment for bicyclists, Guico recently proposed development of an on-street bike trail — complete with shared lane markings called "sharrows" and signs — that follows the direction of Klein Creek from north to south in Carol Stream.
Guico said the trail could help bolster home values in the oldest neighborhood in town, which also has been hardest hit by flooding. And, he said, his plan would complement existing or planned off-street paths operated by the village and park district.
But a report issued this week by village staff members suggests Guico's plan might not be that easy to implement.
They say a more comprehensive approach that analyzes biking throughout the entire village is the way to go — if only there was money to pay for it.
"Probably right now we have a lot of priorities that are ahead of developing a bicycle plan," said Jim Knudsen, the village's director of engineering services. "It takes time and additional staff and resources and money, and we just don't have that right now."
Knudsen's report estimates it could cost anywhere between $25,000 and $100,000 to develop such a plan, which includes forming a citizens advisory committee and hiring a consultant. By the time routes are planned and laid out, the whole process could take years — if not decades — to complete, Knudsen said.
Carol Stream does not have any on-street bike path markings, but does have several off-street paths, including the Lies Road Trail, and paths in Veterans Park, Mitchell Lakes, Armstrong Park, Red Hawk Park and Bierman Park.
Construction of the Kuhn Road Trail is expected to be complete this year, as well as the park district's connection to the Great Western Trail through Red Hawk Park. Preliminary design work is now under way for the West Branch DuPage River Trail along Fair Oaks Road and the Gary Avenue Trail.
But Guico says his idea is to "change the concept" that bike routes have to be expensive and off-street.
"What I'm trying to introduce here is the idea that not all trails have to be of that amount — that's the amount for new infrastructure. On street signage and sharrows it's much less," Guico said. "I would like to do what's possible. Would it be better to approve a $40,000 plan for the whole village — see which is appropriate for sharrows, bike lanes, designated bike routes — the whole kibosh? Yes, absolutely.
"Unfortunately the money isn't there, so the Klein Creek Trail was the second-best option."
A handout Guico provided village staff and trustees earlier this year estimated the cost of markings and signs on the proposed trail to be roughly $3,600 — not including labor costs.
Knudsen said the village's existing bike paths have qualified for grant funding because they are destination-oriented, and the village has been able to show there would be a reduction in vehicular trips — and therefore vehicle emissions — through their use.
Guico's plan for streets near Klein Creek wouldn't meet those qualifications, Knudsen said.
The village report also says an advisory committee should include feedback from a broader spectrum of stakeholders — not just bicyclists — who would discuss parking issues, a needs analysis, accident history, trip-making patterns and a user profile.
Guico said he might look for volunteers to participate in an advisory committee. For now, he wants to explore corporate sponsorship opportunities for existing trails as a way to fund trail improvements.
Knudsen said the village will begin to implement some improvements that could be done at little or no cost, including the addition of signs or markings to improve navigation and location of existing paths, as well as addition of trash bins to the trails.
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