It's official: Riverside connects bike trails

Newly designated Wright Route links Salt Creek, Cermak Woods paths

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By Bob Uphues

After years of opposition to connecting the Salt Creek Bike Trail with the Cermak Woods trail through Riverside, the village board voted unanimously to essentially do just that on March 5.

Monday's action, which codified the names of the three bike routes designated by the village, lays the ground for the installation of way-finding signage, including kiosks at two entry points to the village, showing the one route that connects the Salt Creek and Cermak Woods trails.

Once those signs are in, Riverside will officially be part of the Cook County Forest Preserve District's bike route map.

The connecting route through Riverside enters at the Barrypoint Road bridge and then winds around Fairbank and Bloomingbank roads, across the Longcommon grade crossing and then east down Burlington Street to Cowley Road. The route then turns north on Cowley to Addison Road, then east across Longcommon and then north on Bartram Road to Desplaines Avenue, and exiting at 26th Street.

The route itself, which was designated the Wright Route (after architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who designed three homes along the route) is not exactly new. It was one of two bike routes designated by the Riverside Village Board in 2010. The other, now called the Olmsted Route after the village's landscape designer, traces a circuitous path along the perimeter of the village.

At that time, however, there was no attempt to specifically link either route with the forest preserve district paths. In past years, there was opposition to bringing cyclists through Riverside. But the March 5 vote officially linking the paths through Riverside passed without a peep.

"Obviously there was a ton of controversy before we moved to Riverside," said Tom Jacobs, whose Riverside Sustainability Council was behind the adoption of the two bike routes in 2010.

The Riverside Cycling Club laid some groundwork in 2008 by convincing the village to approve designating a Forest Avenue-Longcommon Road bike route. That route on March 5 was renamed the Palmer Route.

Cycling club member Paul Sterner said that the lack of opposition to the official linkage may have to do with the fact that, after the 2008 designation of the Forest/Longcommon route, residents saw there was no great difference in bike traffic.

"When the Palmer Route went in, it really didn't change anything," Sterner said.

Jacobs took that precedent and set about getting the support of residents and village commissions before bringing his bike route plan to the village board in 2010.

"It was mostly a grassroots effort by going to every commission," said Jacobs.

By including East Burlington Street into the Wright Route, Jacobs also won the support of the Riverside Chamber of Commerce.

"I have a feeling that whenever the chamber is backing something, it's a key stakeholder that can help sway public opinion," Jacobs said.

Forest preserve district kiosks displaying the bike route maps, with the Riverside connection included, will be placed at the entrance/exit to Cermak Woods on Ogden Avenue and the North Riverside connection to the Salt Creek Trail at 9th Avenue.

Cyclists wanting to head to Riverside from 9th Avenue will head east on 26th Street to Desplaines Avenue and then south to the Bartram/Northgate entrance to the village.

Access to the Cermak Woods trail from Riverside will be across the Barrypoint bridge, then east on 39th Street, north on Shakespeare Avenue and then across Ogden Avenue into Cermak Woods.

Riverside has already begun installing arrow signs indicating the local bike routes on village sign posts.

Jacobs also stated that he'd like to see the village support the idea of publishing a consolidated map as a marketing piece, one that could include the bike routes, walking tours of the village, landmark building locations and businesses.

"If we do this together I think the whole idea is that ... If we actually find a way to do this together, with the civic organizations, with governmental involvement to some extent, and also the chamber ... I firmly believe that we can create a great benefit for the village - for its residents, but also for people who would like to come here and see the beauty of our town," Jacobs said.

The idea received the support of Judith Cizek, the chairwoman of the Riverside Historical Commission, and Alex Gallegos, who was at the March 5 board meeting as a representative of the chamber of commerce.

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