Brookfield may be the first community in the Chicago region to designate one of its streets a “bike boulevard” – a street where bicycle traffic is considered a priority – when it reconstructs Arden Avenue between Washington and Brookfield avenues this summer.
There won’t be any bike lanes on either side of the street, which runs along the length of Kiwanis Park, but 21-foot long, 6-foot wide markings on the pavement at the Washington, Parkview and Brookfield avenue intersections will make it clear that bike riders will be king on Arden Avenue.
Street signs will warn motorists that bicycles on a bike boulevard “may use full lane,” the speed limit on that stretch of Arden Avenue will be reduced to 20 mph and a curb bump-out will be built at Arden and Parkview to slow down traffic and allow for the installation of a high-visibility crosswalk.
“Brookfield is planning for more than just cars,” said Brookfield Village President Kit Ketchmark in a press release. “We are planning for people. We want people to safely and comfortably access the many different destinations within Brookfield no matter how they choose to get there.”
The recommendation to make Arden Avenue a bike boulevard fits in with the Complete Streets policy the Brookfield Village Board adopted in 2016 and comes as part of a slew of recommendations in the village’s grant-funded Active Transportation Plan, which will be rolled out publicly in July.
The Active Transportation Plan was drafted by the Active Transportation Alliance, which is a “nonprofit advocacy organization that works to improve conditions for bicycling, walking and transit and engage people in healthy and active ways to get around,” according to its website.
In early 2017, the Active Transportation Alliance compiled data and input from village residents on transportation problems and opportunities in Brookfield through an online survey, a map where people could identify issues and add comments as well as a public workshop.
About 250 people took the survey or gave input in-person or online, and 90 comments were added to the online map. The group also used crash data from the Illinois Department of Transportation in coming up with recommendations for improved pedestrian, bicycle and intersection improvements.
“The Arden Avenue Bike Boulevard project is indicative of the village’s commitment to creating a low-stress experience for cyclists of all ages and its draft Active Transportation Plan highlights many more exciting improvements to come,” said Heather Schady, senior transportation planner with the Active Transportation Alliance, in the press release.
Arden Avenue was not the only street recommended for designation as a “bike boulevard.” Others bike boulevards in the plan are the entire length of Grand Boulevard; Congress Park Avenue, from Eberly Avenue to Ehlert Park and from Vernon to Custer; Harrison Avenue, from 31st Street to Fairview Avenue; and DuBois Boulevard, from Burlington Avenue to 47th Street.
Recommended as streets that could accommodate designated bike lanes are 31st Street, from Forest to Kemman or from Kemman to Prairie and the entire length of Washington Avenue.
Streets recommended for shared lane markings (also known as sharrows), because the streets aren’t wide enough to accommodate designated bike lanes, are 29th Street; Fairview Avenue, from Kemman to Vernon; Prairie Avenue, from 29th Street to 31st Street; and the entire lengths of Maple and Prairie Avenues, south from 31st Street.
The plan alternately recommends Maple and Prairie Avenues as well as 31st Street, as roads that could accommodate buffered bike lanes, meaning a designated bike lane with an additional 2-foot buffer marked on the vehicle lane side of the street.
It also recommends the installation of a multi-use path for bikes and pedestrians on Brookfield Avenue, from Prairie Avenue to the Hollywood Metra stop, and along 31st Street, from Prairie Avenue to First Avenue. The village has already sought grant funding for a feasibility study for the 31st Street path.
In addition, the plan calls for wayfinding signage geared toward cyclists in key routes and bike route signs to heighten awareness of the presence of bicyclists.