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Winnetka Takes Steps to Improve Bikeway System

Patch previews the park district's Thursday evening presentation of potential on and off road bikeway improvements

Winnetka's Park District will present several potential bike system improvements to the public this evening. The event follows several months of research by the Hitchcock Design Group.

Hitchcock, a Chicago-based landscape and public architecture group, was asked by the park district in September to "to identify both on and off road bikeway routes with the objective of providing links between other trail systems, the lakefront, key parks and recreation facilities, the downtown business district and other important community destinations," according to a press statement.

"We have an enormous number of cyclists that ride through Winnetka to the north, or south; along Sherdian Road or Willow Road; to the east and west—it makes sense to figure out how to incorporate that line of [transport] thinking," said Winnetka Park District Director Terry Schwartz. One key priority is making sure there is sufficient signage engage the commuting community.

Tonight's meeting, hosted at the 540 Hibbard Rd. from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., is the next step in eventually presenting a finalized bikeway plan to the Village Board.

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"We want to find ways for people to bike to safely, major parks and schools," Schwartz said.

In addition to safety, the park district is also looking into trail extensions and maintenance ideas. 

"We are linking with the forest preserve and the Green Bay Trail for now as our first initiative," he said. "If something should naturally hook into transit systems in Glencoe, Northfield and Wilmette we’d love to look into it.

According to Schwartz the bike task force and development planning came out of noted public interest during the park districts master plan surveying. An "enviromental sensitivity" came out of that strategic planning process, he added. 

"We’re very excited that after Winnetka did all of their park district master plan work they decided to continue on with a bike trail task force," said Barbara Cornew, north suburban coordinator of Active Transportation Alliance. Cornew, a Winnetka resident, is also on the board of the task force. The task force comprises key stakeholders that have been assembled to work with the Winnetka Park District and the Hitchcock Design Group to assist on this project. Members include Police Chief , Chamber Executive Director , Cook County Board Commissioner , Assistant Village Engineer Susan Chen, along with Winnetka Park District staff members, Executive Director , Superintendent of Parks Robert Smith and Superintendent of Facilities Tom Gullen, according to a press release.

Following tonight's meeting, the park district will take recommendations back to its committee "with the hopes of moving forward with the village process." Meanwhile, Cornew said ATA will continue to raise awareness on cycling safety and development with area residents and municipalities.

"We'll be keeping citizens engaged and looking at policies that can make the road safer so more can get out and cycle. . . the park district doesn’t own the streets, so working with towns and policy is the next step."

Stay tuned for more on the bikeway meeting. Like us on Facebook to join the conversation.

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