Why are bike lanes being proposed for Green Bay Road?
The City is committed to making our streets safe for all users, regardless of age or ability, and regardless of what method of travel they choose. Since its first Active Transportation Plan was adopted in 2012, the City has made significant strides to improve its non-motorized transportation infrastructure. MoveHP, adopted in 2020, envisions the development of a comprehensive and connected non-motorized transportation system. It proposes that the City of Highland Park plan for improvements to the City’s roads and transportation systems that will serve all transportation users: cyclists, pedestrians, transit users and drivers.
Through a robust public engagement process, MoveHP identified opportunities for infrastructure improvements that would provide safer access to local and regional destinations. Proposed bike lanes on Green Bay Road are included on page 20 of MoveHP. More information about the MoveHP plan is available via the City’s website via this link: https://cms6.revize.com/revize/highlandparkil/MoveHP%2010.13.20.pdf.
Do bike lanes only support cyclists?
Studies show that the addition of bike lanes improves safety for all users of the road. According to Barbara McCann, director of Safety, Energy & Environment for the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), a bike lane "… reduces the frequency of crashes. It calms traffic, which makes streets less chaotic and safer for everyone." (https://www.aarp.org/livable-communities/getting-around/info-2016/why-bicycling-infrastructure-is-good-for-people-who-dont-ride-bikes.html) Drivers have also reported that they appreciate roadways with bike lanes because there is a sense of predictability in giving cyclists their own place in the street.
Where would the proposed bike lanes connect north and south?
The new bike lanes are designed for the entire project length, from Central Avenue to Clavey Road, in line with objectives to enhance non-motorized transportation infrastructure as outlined in the City’s MoveHP plan. However, providing bike lanes for the entire length of the project requires widening of the pavement. Based on feedback from the City Council and the public, the City has decided to retain the existing dimensions of Green Bay Road. If a bike lane is pursued, it will only be considered within the current width of Green Bay Road. This may result in a discontinuous bike lanes within the project limits. The City will also continue to evaluate options to determine if a continuous bike lane is possible without pavement widening. All plans are subject to approval by IDOT.
If a continuous bike lane is possible without pavement widening, cyclists could connect with the new sidepath on Clavey Road at the south end, which also could enable a connection to the Skokie Valley Trail to the west. At the north end, cyclists could access the Central Business District and the shops and restaurants in that vicinity.
Is the Green Bay Trail an option, rather than adding bike lanes to Green Bay Road?
Safety is a key factor that motivates whether people choose to walk or bike to a destination. Adding bike lanes on Green Bay Road will improve safety for the motorists, cyclists and pedestrians who travel that corridor by providing a designated lane for each user group.
Highland Park has an existing bike and pedestrian network that stretches across the City. The Green Bay/McClory Trail is a well-used, unpaved recreational trail that runs adjacent to the Metra Tracks in Highland Park, and continues through neighboring communities to the north and south. While an unpaved trail is suitable for leisure riders and runners, a paved surface is desirable for safe, multi-season use for individuals who rely on their bicycles for transportation. The community has expressed strong support for retaining a crushed limestone surface on the Green Bay/McClory Trail.
The proposed bike lane would connect to the trail at Clavey Road on the south, and would connect to bike routes on the north at Laurel and Central Avenue, improving connectivity for cyclists.
Why does the project end at Clavey Road and not at Lake-Cook Road?
When the project scope was developed, the decision to end at Clavey Road was made for the following reasons:
- Clavey Road is a route eligible for federal funding. It is common to end the project limits at a federally funded route.
- Although Lake-Cook Road is also a route eligible for federal funding, limited funding resources made the terminus at Clavey Road a better ending point.
- The Clavey Road Project includes construction of a new 8-foot wide multi-use path. The new bike lanes could connect to the new multi-use path.
- Due to limited resources, it is common to implement and construction infrastructure in stages and not build everything all at once.
What are various bicycle lane options and their advantages/disadvantages?
In any major infrastructure improvement project, the City considers different alternatives, and weighs the costs and benefits of each. The City used the Federal Highway Administration and Illinois Department of Transportation standards in evaluating various alternatives. Construction of a physical barrier to separate the bike lane from vehicular traffic would enhance safety for all users of the road, including pedestrians using the sidewalk.
Various bicycle lane options were presented at the Public Information Meeting on January 25, 2023, and to the City’s Transportation Advisory Group on September 28, 2022, and December 7, 2022.
Based on feedback from the City Council and the public, the City has decided to retain the existing dimensions of Green Bay Road, and not widen the roadway. If a bike lane is pursued, it will only be considered within the current width of Green Bay Road. The City has eliminated the barrier island option and the bollard option. The remaining option, should bike lanes be approved, is the green painted bike lane with no physical separation between the bike lanes and motorized travel lanes.
Green Bay Road is approximately 30 feet in width, measured from edge of pavement to edge of pavement along the corridor of this project. The curb and gutter along the edges of pavement have a 1-foot wide gutter flag. Therefore, the width, measured from face of curb to face of curb is 32 feet. Based on IDOT’s Bureau of Local Roads and Streets Manual, bike lanes should be 5-foot wide. To attain the 5-foot width, 4 feet of pavement is used along with the 1-foot wide gutter flag to provide a 5-foot wide bike lane. Due to the speed limit, amount of traffic, and trucks along the roadway, sharrows are not recommended along Green Bay Road.