Arlington Heights to work on new bike-pedestrian plan

Arlington Heights is working with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning to create an updated bicycle-pedestrian plan for the village over the next year.

The agreement — for the two sides to study existing conditions and best practices for the future — was approved by the village board Monday. The partnership will not come at any cost to the village, but implementing recommendations of the plan could require funding down the road, Village Manager Bill Dixon said.

Arlington Heights created a bicycle plan in 1988 and updated it in 1996, but according to village documents “a comprehensive update is needed to incorporate current best practices, emphasize connections with neighboring communities and regional destinations, and reflect the village's successful focus on transit-oriented development.”

According to documents from the agency, the village already has a network of on-street bicycle routes, off-street paths and one short bike lane, but there are problems.

“The pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly downtown and neighboring residential areas are unfortunately surrounded by arterial roads with little or no bicycle accommodations and an inconsistent or incomplete sidewalk network,” reads a report from the agency. “Safe crossings for bicyclists and pedestrians are often absent.”

Palatine, Mount Prospect, Wheeling and Des Plaines have already adopted and begun implementing bicycle and pedestrian transportation plans.

“We want to coordinate with other communities so these paths go somewhere,” Dixon said. “Our bike paths now are primarily focused on recreation, which is wonderful, but more and more bikes are being looked at as a form of transportation.”

The village's volunteer members of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission will act as the project's steering committee and will work with the agency and incorporate public input throughout the process. The agency will also create and host a website with updating information about the project.

According to an early timeline, the plan would be adopted by the village board in spring 2015. Officials from the planning agency would continue to work with Arlington Heights for two years after the plan's adoption to encourage implementation of any recommendations that are included in the plan.

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