Wayne Township, biking enthusiasts finishing blueprint to 'bike culture'

A public-private group working to transform Wayne Township into a safe destination for bicyclists will complete their plan by the end of the year before campaigning suburban leaders to open their purse strings.

The township tapped Chicago-based Active Transporation Alliance last spring to develop a proposal that will map designated biking routes crossing Bartlett, Carol Stream, Hanover Park, West Chicago and Wayne.

The project will make recommendations - some low-cost, others pricey - to encourage residents to treat cycling as both recreation and transportation.

"It's good for your health. It's good for the environment," said Terry Witt, the owner of Spin Doctor Cyclewerks in Bartlett. "It's got all these pluses and people are beginning to realize that quality of life is something they want to grab onto and a bicycle is a great way to do that."

A steering committee working on the plan includes Witt and officials from the township, DuPage County Forest Preserve District, West Chicago and Wayne.

One of their main priorities is connecting trails and bike paths. Complaints about dead-ends jump-started the process, township Highway Commissioner Martin McManamon said.

"It's just the hottest topic," he said.

The group also hopes to install signs telling bicyclists to go off the beaten path and visit businesses and local landmarks. Retailers could stand to gain from the roughly 40,000 cyclists who ride the Illinois Prairie Path. The path's Elgin branch runs through the township, Witt said.

By the end of December, the final plan will offer financing options that could take the form of grants or dollars from municipalities.

Many proposed improvements for intersections are an easy fix, officials say: installing wayfinding and bike crossing signs, painting bike lanes on roads and adding bike racks.

The tougher sell would be bigger-ticket items like bike-pedestrian medians, roundabouts and loop detectors that trigger traffic signals when a bike stops over markings on the pavement. When it comes to bike paths, building one on a stretch of Schick Road cost the township about $370,000 this year.

While funding poses a challenge, there are some budget-friendly elements that look attractive to Bartlett officials. But Trustee Aaron Reinke stressed village planners are starting talks with neighboring towns and park districts to learn more about a blueprint.

"I think it's on the radar," he said.

Besides the eye toward infrastructure, the group also will come up with programming that builds a "bike culture." That could mean community mileage competitions and educating drivers about sharing the road.

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