By Bradford Goff
Cycling is a great alternative to the conventional method of using cars or public transportation. It provides a mode of transportation that is healthy, sustainable, and fun; and the infrastructure is relatively easy to maintain in comparison to the traditional roadways used by cars.
Schaumburg, however, is currently not the friendliest of cities when it comes to cycling. This is due mainly to its cycling infrastructure. Currently Schaumburg is working in tandem with the Active Transportation Alliance (ATA) in order to help rectify this.
One of the biggest challenges facing Schaumburg’s cycling future is the current cycling infrastructure. As of right now, Schaumburg’s cycling infrastructure could be considered lacking. This is one of the reasons that there is not an abundance of people using bikes as their main mode of transportation.
A study conducted in Vancouver in 2010 looked at the built environment and the impact it had on the number of people who drove instead of using an active mode of transportation, like cycling. The study showed that in areas where there were more multi-use trails and bike lanes, more people were likely to use a bike for their transportation (Winters, Brauer, Setton, & Teschke, 2010). The study showed that if there are bikeways located near the beginning and end of a person’s trip, they were even more likely to use a bike as a means of transportation.
This is an area that Schaumburg can greatly improve on. Figure 1 is map of the current bikeways located through out Schaumburg. Currently, most of the bikeways run through the residential areas of the town. As it stands, people who want to get to a majority of the commercial amenities, like Woodfield Mall, would have to ride their bike down some of the busiest roads in Schaumburg.
The Active Transportation Alliance’s Schaumburg Bikeway Plan
Schaumburg has partnered with the Active Transportation Alliance (ATA) in order to come up with a way of improving the current cycling infrastructure to make Schaumburg more of a bicycling friendly community.
The Schaumburg Bikeway Plan released in January of 2012 (access the pdf of the report here) recommends changes throughout the community, notably (1) expanding the bikeway network in order to connect with other communities, (2) updating municipal ordinances regarding biking, education for the community on the use of the pathways, and (3) implementing the new plan (Active Transportation Alliance, 2012).
Schaumburg’s current bike network is fairly small (see figure above), yet extensive in comparison to many similar suburbs in the region. As shown at left, ATA has proposed the expansion of the Bikeway Network to include more multi-use trails that connects more of the residential areas of Schaumburg to the business areas of Schaumburg.
Expanding the current bikeway network alone, however, is not the only answer to making Schaumburg a more bicycle friendly community. To make Schaumburg a friendlier cycling community, the ATA also suggests supplying education courses to cyclists. These courses would cover proper safety habits for cyclists. There are numerous suggestions of how this can be accomplished, such as through the YMCA, park districts, and even school districts. Cyclist education, combined with the expanded bikeway proposal, will be a good starting position for the community to become more bike friendly.
With the help of the ATA and the community, Schaumburg stands ready to make the change from a bicycle tolerant community, to a cycling-friendly community. Through the expansion of the bikeway system, education of the cyclists on how to properly share the road with automobiles, and the support of the community, Schaumburg can become a model for other suburbs to be come more bike friendly in the near future.
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