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posted: 2/5/2014 4:31 PM

Glen Ellyn launching 'Move GE' bike and active transportation initiative

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An initiative to create a bike and active transportation plan is gaining steam in Glen Ellyn.

The village launched Move GE with an open house Wednesday night at the Glen Ellyn Civic Center and invited residents who couldn't make it to take a brief online survey.

Village officials said the plan comes in response to a growing interest nationwide in cycling and walking, and steady community interest and feedback on the topic. It also works in concert with the village's Downtown Strategic Plan adopted in 2009, which had a goal to "establish safe and efficient pedestrian, bicycle and automobile traffic and access patterns to, through and from the downtown."

As part of the village's "efforts to improve quality of life," Move GE will identify ways to increase people's healthy and physical activity levels, shorten and ease daily commutes and ensure safety on streets and sidewalks. Residents were invited to share ideas for specific improvements to bike and pedestrian infrastructure and policy within Glen Ellyn.

John Carlisle, the village's planning intern working with planning consultant Jake Rueter on the initiative, cites six benefits of a bike and transportation plan:

• Increased public safety, particularly for school-age students.

• More choice for residents, visitors and workers on how to access their destinations.

• Easier commuting and connecting to regional Chicagoland transportation network.

• Economic development, especially in the commercial areas, with the hope that Glen Ellyn can become a destination for riders along the Prairie Path.

• Economic development in terms of property value and incentive for new development, citing studies that claim bike lanes and infrastructure, as well as "bike-friendly" destinations, boost the investments people make in real property.

• Increased public health.

Another key benefit is reducing congestion in the downtown area -- an ongoing subject of debate in the village.

"When you consider downtown's physical density and the location of its one Metra station, greater use of biking and walking should free up parking spaces in existing areas," Carlisle said. "The village is committed to allocating as much convenient parking as possible for downtown businesses, and greater bike and pedestrian use is one of the ways to achieve that."

Carlisle pointed to communities such as Wheaton and Elmhurst that have produced full-length bike plans in recent years, committing resources to installing more bike racks on public and private property and creating bike routes. The groups Active Transportation Alliance and the League of Illinois Bicyclists, which have offered resources for Glen Ellyn's project, also are producing a Bike to Metra Guide for Glen Ellyn that is expected to be released later this year.

The online survey will stay open for responses through Feb. 28. Ideas can be emailed to movegeplan@gmail.com.

"This plan does not belong to the consultants or village leaders," Carlisle said. "It belongs to the public -- residents, parents, students, visitors, workers, commuters and anyone who is regularly in Glen Ellyn. We still don't know what exact vision these stakeholders will have for the Glen Ellyn bike plan."

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