Editorial: Schaumburg's plans to be more bike friendly are great, but we need regional planning
Schaumburg is a bike-friendly community that's trying to take it to the next level -- in a different way.
In a four-year plan village trustees are considering this month, it's not added trails or bike routes under discussion, but education.
The village has long aimed to accommodate bicycling, and to be sure anybody can get anywhere in the village on a bike.
It's true that some routes are better than others. Bike lanes in the southwest section of town, such as along Weathersfield Way and Salem and Braintree drives, are very safe routes. While the inconsistent sidewalks on Springinsguth Road may not be the best idea, the paths along Plum Grove Road are doable, and you can get to Woodfield on a bike -- if you're careful about it.
Nevertheless, Schaumburg has worked on its bicycling network for decades, and it's complete with signage to help you around.
Now the village is talking about developing bicycle education opportunities for adults, including a Bike Month and bike-to-work events, and engaging further with bike advocacy groups, as well as videos that can be used in schools, media campaigns on safe behavior, "high-quality" bicycle parking and bicycle-friendly education for drivers.
It's by no means the first such effort in the region. Studies and programs abound from such groups as the Active Transportation Alliance and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, with incredible ideas that could be implemented if support and funding coalesce.
Schaumburg is doing its own thing (though it suggests working with regional groups, too). It's a four-year plan, but we've seen how even paths for bicycles can take as long to come to fruition as roads, and cost millions.
Just this week we reported on a tunnel under Route 45 in northern Lake County that's about done, connecting the Raven Glen and Ethel's Woods forest preserves. It cost $4.8 million and is part of the decadeslong Millennium Trail plan.
Schaumburg itself in 2019 opened a bridge over Central Road off Roselle Road to allow bicyclists to get to the trail in the Paul Douglas Forest Preserve with less traffic danger. It cost $4.6 million.
There have been projects like these all over the suburbs. But all of the well-intended planning doesn't get a cyclist far unless there is regional planning to connect the suburbs for cyclists.
Arlington Heights has a decent bike route system, but only this summer did it create safer access to the Buffalo Creek Forest Preserve around Long Grove -- with a better crosswalk across busy Lake-Cook Road at Wilke Road.
Schaumburg is on the right track with its education campaigns. But more regional planning could help.