Elgin plans to add 84 bike racks to central district

  • The city of Elgin plans to add 84 U-shaped bike racks to the central business district to encourage bicyclists to patronize businesses. Pictured here are bike racks in front of the Elgin police station, 151 Douglas Ave.

    The city of Elgin plans to add 84 U-shaped bike racks to the central business district to encourage bicyclists to patronize businesses. Pictured here are bike racks in front of the Elgin police station, 151 Douglas Ave. Courtesy of Molly Gillespie/city of Elgin

 
 
Posted3/5/2020 5:30 AM

In a victory for bicycle enthusiasts, the city of Elgin plans to more than double its bicycle racks within the central business district.

The project to install 84 new bike racks, expected to be done in October, is estimated at $115,999, including $39,199 from the city and $76,800 in federal grant reimbursement. The new bike racks will be U-shaped, able to hold one or two bikes each.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The city council's committee of the whole approved the plan in an 8-1 vote Wednesday night.

"I have had downtown business owners inquire about and request bike racks near their businesses, so that people that are coming off the (Fox River) bike trail can stop and patronize their businesses," Councilwoman Tish Powell said.

Councilman John Steffen, who often bikes to his law office downtown, said he will appreciate being able to lock his bike on a rack rather than a tree. Others also use lamp posts.

The central business district is bordered by Kimball Street to the north, Center/Villa streets to the east, Prairie Street to the south and State Street to the west.

There are about 61 bike racks in the district, both U-shaped and "wave" style, but they are located in somewhat peripheral, inconvenient spots, not within the sightline of businesses like bicyclists prefer, officials said. The goal is to install about two new bike racks per block.

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Jennifer Fukala, executive director of the Downtown Neighborhood Association, quoted statistics saying more than 86,000 cyclists per year utilize the nearby bike trail, bringing about $30 in economic impact per visit. "This is another piece of the puzzle to leveraging the trail, and also bringing walkability and a walkable environment downtown," she said.

The only dissenting vote came from Councilman Toby Shaw, who said he doesn't see many bicyclists downtown, although he acknowledged that could increase with bike racks. He also questioned how much it would cost to maintain all the new bike racks at the same time.

Kristin Kalitowski of Civiltech Engineering, which will do the engineering for the project, said racks with special types of coating, although more expensive, require fewer touch-ups. All costs should be covered by the federal grant, she said.

Although it would be great to install the racks in time for summer, the timing is determined by requirements of the grant, officials said.

Final approval from the city is expected in a vote in two weeks.

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