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updated: 10/24/2013 5:19 AM

Many still unhappy with Lake Arlington trail changes

Residents may be happy with park district's care but not with solutions

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  • The speed limit for cyclists Lake Arlington says 8 mph, but many at an Arlington Heights Park District on Wednesday said the cyclists still go too fast.

       The speed limit for cyclists Lake Arlington says 8 mph, but many at an Arlington Heights Park District on Wednesday said the cyclists still go too fast.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Interim changes to the Lake Arlington trail have bikes going in one direction and pedestrians the opposite direction. But not all like those procedures.

       Interim changes to the Lake Arlington trail have bikes going in one direction and pedestrians the opposite direction. But not all like those procedures.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

 
 

While the Arlington Heights Park District is trying to find a way to make the path safer around Lake Arlington, comments at a public meeting Wednesday made it clear that one answer will likely not appease all.

Nearly 100 people attended a forum at the park district, with about 30 people giving varying comments and suggestions about what can or should be done to fix the problems around the popular path.

In June a woman was struck by an 11-year-old bicyclist, hit her head on the ground and later died. After what officials called a tragic accident, residents began speaking out about problems with bikers, walkers, runners and skaters sharing the same path.

Interim changes were implemented to restrict wheeled users to one direction and non-wheeled in another, but many residents said they still don't think the problem is solved. Comment cards and email suggestions were mixed with nearly as many people liking the interim plan as did not like it.

Some residents said the park district has overreacted by changing the path, while others said it was right to take actions. Some said it is the walkers causing problems on the path by walking in big groups or wearing headphones, while others said it was the bikers riding too quickly that was causing the danger.

"It's a tragedy what happened, but in perspective that was one time in twenty-something years. I think this whole thing was a knee-jerk reaction," said resident Barbara Wiencek.

Other suggestions included adding another path, adding lights to the path, adding more signs, getting rid of some of the signage or having walkers travel in both directions while bikers only ride one way.

Expecting one-way traffic is unreasonable because some residents can't or don't want to travel all the way around the lake, residents pointed out.

"I wasn't surprised by the fatality, but I was saddened by it," said Susan McGready. "I don't know how the park district can solve this, but I'm thankful to them for trying."

Several spoke of an attitude problem at the park ever since the changes, because some people are telling others where they can or cannot walk.

Another hot topic was enforcement, with several residents asking for more of a police presence on the path.

Aside from path safety, residents also voiced concerns about two recent attacks on joggers near Lake Arlington.

Police Capt. Richard Niedrich said crime in the area is generally very low and gave tips about how to stay safe, including not wearing headphones, knowing self-defense and being aware of their surroundings.

Executive Director Steve Scholten said the park district is investigating if it's possible to build a second path for walkers because of the proximity of property lines and slope of the lake.

Scholten said the park district will take all the public input and put together a recommendation for the park board in the coming months about what to do for the 2014 season.

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