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Crystal Lake set to expand bike routes

Published: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 5:04 p.m. CST • Updated: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 11:15 p.m. CST

CRYSTAL LAKE – Crystal Lake bikers are on track for a series of new routes that would add 6 to 7 miles of new lanes to a bikeway corridor that could be built this fall.

The proposal includes five new bike paths, including two routes that would connect riders from downtown to Sternes Woods and the Dole Avenue bike lanes. Other routes would connect Veteran Acres to Prairie Trail Path, Golf Course Road to Prairie Trail Path and Miller Road to Main Beach.

Erik Morimoto, director of engineering and building for Crystal Lake, said many of the routes are designed to direct bikers off busier roads, such as Route 14, and toward residential roads to reach popular destinations.

Many of the routes will just require signage to direct bikers, but some of the wider roads will be striped to designate an official bike lane. No road work will be needed to develop the corridor, Morimoto said.

“A lot of it is the wayfinding aspect of it and adding signage to show routes,” he said. “The safety improvement is getting some of that dedicated separation between bikes and vehicles.”

Eighty percent, or $113,208, of the project is funded through a federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant. Morimoto said it is the increased access to grants that has the city closer to receiving bicycle-friendly community status from the League of American Bicyclists.

For example, Morimoto said, the city was in the planning stages of using a federal Safe Routes to School grant as part of the city’s McHenry Avenue project to extend bike routes near Crystal Lake South High School.

Crystal Lake Mayor Aaron Shepley said that while the grants are appreciated, the council has made expanding bicycle access and transportation a priority with or without the outside funding.

“It’s not a process that happens overnight or even in a year,” Shepley said of promoting bicycle transportation. “We’re taking one step at a time, and we’re going to continue in that direction one way or another.”

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