Elgin's northeast side likely getting bike lanes
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Elgin's northeast side is expected to get bicycle lanes along a route that would connect its downtown to trails accessing Shoe Factory Road Woods and the Poplar Creek forest preserve.
The final engineering plan moved forward with a 6-2 vote at the city council's committee of the whole meeting on Wednesday. The city's expense would be $95,168 after reimbursement through the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement grant program.
If Elgin doesn't move forward with the plan, it will have to return about $101,000 to the federal government for planning work already done on the project, said Ron Rudd, senior engineer for the city.
"For $95,000, you get something," Mayor David Kaptain said. "For $100,000, you get nothing, absolutely nothing but a check to write out."
Councilmembers Rich Dunne and Anna Moeller said they don't like the idea of losing parking on the south side of Congdon Avenue and west side of Prospect Avenue to make way for bicycles.
The grant requires the creation of bike lanes, but these would be shared lanes with other traffic and are typically marked with images of bicycles on the pavement.
Overall, the plan's benefits outweigh those concerns, Dunne and Moeller said.
"I think the community does support cycling and wants to see it designated within the community," Moeller said.
Councilmen John Prigge and Terry Gavin voted against the plan. Councilman Toby Shaw was absent.
"I think that the overall cost is prohibitive, and I think it's just not the right thing to do for that particular part of town," Prigge said.
Gavin, who lives near the proposed bike route, called it "a luxury we don't need."
Resident Chris Kin said the bike lanes and loss of parking will negatively affect area residents. Resident Betty Newhouse agreed.
"It's difficult for people to get out of their driveway, it's difficult to see cars ... let alone a bike rider," Newhouse said.
The new bike lanes will increase the city's liability for any accidents, Gavin said.
In the last 20-plus years, the city paid a "modest" settlement in one bike lane-related lawsuit, Corporation Counsel William Cogley said.
Elgin adopted in 2008 its Bikeway Master Plan, which seeks to turn the city into a bicycle-friendly community with bikeways in all four quadrants of the city.
In the near future, the city council will have to decide whether to move forward with design and engineering for bike lanes in the southwest quadrant of town.
"Moving forward I agree we can forgo federal grants if it means taking up parking," Councilman John Steffen said.
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