Bike routes are not only about recreation, but transportation.
That's one of the messages Wayne Mikes, owner of Mikes Bike Shop on Route 14 has tried to drive home for several years. Mikes is part of the Greater Palatine Bicycle Task Force, a group that advocates for Palatine to become a bicycle-friendly community.
"Think about the Metra station," Mikes said. "There should be bike routes leading to a location like that. There should be safe routes to schools, too."
In August, Palatine hired the consultant Spaceco Inc., to begin work on a bicycle plan. The project is being funded with an $8,000 federal grant.
The village is hosting a public workshop about the bike plan 7 p.m. Sept. 30, at Village Hall, 200 E. Wood St.
"The idea is to get the public involved," said Harry Spila, director of community services for Palatine. "We want to get the public's input about what is important to them and what needs to be included in a plan."
Mikes said the task force has been very sensitive to the issue of costs. Many of the improvements that likely would be associated with implementing a bike plan—road striping, signage—could be funded with grants. He said that once a plan is in place, the village could pursue as much as $200,000 in grant funding.
"When we started this process we wanted to make it clear to the village that we were not coming to them asking for money," Mikes said.
One issue that has caused some communities to balk at the creation of bike routes is potential liability. According to a 1998 Illinois Supreme Court ruling, municipalities could be liable for injuries suffered by a rider on a designated bike route.
The ruling established that municipalities had immunity when bicyclists were injured while riding on roads because they are not the intended users. However, bicyclists are intended users when a bike route or lane is created.
Ed Barsotti, executive director of the League of Illinois Bicyclists, said the liability fear was overblown. Barsotti said that lawsuits stemming from accidents on bike routes were not common.
"The liability exposure is similar to when a community puts in a sidewalk," Barsotti said. "Towns do get lawsuits from people tripping on sidewalks, but that doesn't stop them from putting in sidewalks."