New bicycle routes explored for Winnetka
Thursday, January 26, 2012
by Kimberly Fornek
The Winnetka Park District is
exploring the routes bicyclists could take to safely reach popular destinations
in the village.
The park district initially wanted to
provide better access to the Cook County Forest Preserve trails, west of the
Winnetka Golf Club.
Park officials sought a way to
connect the Green Bay Trail on the east side of town to the North Branch Trail
along the Skokie Lagoon. They’ve expanded their vision to creating a bicycle
master plan with several options for traveling through the village.
The park district hired Hitchcock
Design Group from Naperville to study and prepare the master plan for $31,200,
plus incidental expenses.
Officials from the park district and
Hitchcock will hold an Open House from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2, in
the park district administration building, at 540 Hibbard Road. People can ask
questions and offer suggestions on the preliminary plan. At 7 p.m., the
officials will have a formal presentation on their ideas so far.
Steve Konters, the project manager
for Hitchcock, noted the established trails in Winnetka run north and south.
“It’s obvious what you need primarily
are east-west trails,” Konters told the park district commissioners at a
committee meeting earlier this month. He suggested a combination of dedicated
trails and on- and off-street routes be identified for bicycle use. The routes
would lead to the lakefront, parks, recreation facilities and Winnetka’s
business districts. They would cross property owned by a variety of government
agencies and, therefore, call for partnerships with the village, school
districts, Cook County Forest Preserve District and, possibly, other entities.
“While Tower, Winnetka and Willow
(roads) are your primary east-west routes for vehicles, they may not be quality
bike trails,” Konters said.
Signs could be installed to encourage
riders to take alternate routes that may not be shorter, but they would be
safer, Konters said. Asbury Avenue, for example, could be used to reach the
Hubbard Woods Metra station and Elm Street could be the designated route for
the Elm Street train station.
“The preferred width” for roads that
are shared by bicycle paths and vehicles is 14 feet, Konters said.
In addition to the Feb. 2 Open House,
Hitchcock is gathering public input from a task force that met most recently in
December and will meet again Feb. 8.
The task force includes Winnetka
Police Chief Patrick Kreis, Cook County Board Commissioner Larry Suffredin, the
assistant village engineer Susan Chen, business owners and residents.
Execution of the plan is
expected to occur in phases, as funding allows. Portions of the trail could be
built as part of larger projects, such as the redevelopment of the park
district’s Skokie Playfield, or as improvements to Willow Road