The council approved a resolution to adopt the Forest Park Active Transportation Plan, developed by the consulting firm Active Transport with grant money from Cook County Model Communities. The 60-page plan provides a list of short- and medium-term recommendations to encourage walking and biking in the village.
Short-term, the plan calls for creating bicycle and pedestrian safe routes to schools, drafting a distracted-driving ordinance, strategically reducing speed limits around the village, installing traffic calming measures, and creating “complete streets” that have bicycle signs, traffic bump-outs and safe pedestrian crossings.
All of these items need to be paid for, of course, and Mayor Anthony Calderone said the village is working to acquire grant money and also take advantage of already existing construction – such as that planned for Circle Avenue this year.
“We’ve been fortunate over the last five years with construction projects that have been able to incorporate design elements to make our streets more pedestrian-friendly,” he said before the meeting.
Medium-term goals include village-wide education campaigns such as “Walk to School Day;” targeted crosswalk enforcement events; analyzing crash data to identify the most dangerous intersections, creating a network of pedestrian-friendly “corridors” that connect important public spaces in town, such as parks, schools and shopping; and increase awareness of regional trail systems that connect to Forest Park.
The plan also addresses busy streets like Harlem Avenue, Desplaines Avenue and Roosevelt Road, which are perceived as dangerous. The Illinois Dept. of Transportation (IDOT) controls these roadways, so it is difficult on a local level to install traffic lights or pedestrian protective measures, said Calderone. The report mentions dangerous pedestrian crossings to reach the Harlem Blue Line el stop at the top of the I-290 ramps.
“Unfortunately, IDOT always has an underlying theme that they want to keep traffic moving. They don’t like to slow traffic down [for pedestrian and bicycle safety],” said Calderone, adding that the village has worked with the CTA to open the Circle Avenue el stop for entering commuters. “That made things safer.”