Creating Greater Connectivity in Glencoe
By Village Manager Phil Kiraly
Glencoe residents have access to a wide array of amenities—we have a thriving downtown area with a nationally acclaimed theatre, access to a renowned botanic garden, a beautiful lakefront beach and not less than two walking and biking trail systems at our front door. Moreover, our community is surrounded by over 1,200 acres of forest preserves and open space, abutting both the Chicago Botanic Garden and Skokie Lagoons, as well as Turnbull Woods. With so many amenities throughout the community you’ll seldom have an issue finding something enjoyable to do, but sometimes, getting to these areas on foot or on a family bicycle ride can be a bit complicated.
Two significant projects are currently underway that are aimed at reviewing and/or fixing some of those issues for our community – the first being the new bike path connection between the Green Bay and North Branch trails, and the second being the development of a bike and walking plan (also known as an Active Transportation Plan) for our community. I invite you to learn more about both initiatives below.
Active Transportation Plan
The Sustainability Task Force is leading an effort that teams the Village with the Glencoe Park District and District 35 to develop Glencoe’s first ever bike and walking plan. This effort is an outgrowth of the Downtown Plan, which recommended investment in public infrastructure improvements that promote more pedestrian and cyclist (and less vehicle) activity in our community. To complete the study, the Village Board recently approved a contract with the Active Transportation Alliance, a non-profit advocacy organization, which has completed similar studies for the Villages of Bensenville, Kenilworth and Melrose Park as well as the City of Des Plaines.
Over the next year and a half, the Active Transportation Alliance will work closely with the community to investigate local conditions as they relate to cycling and walking, as well as public transit, and recommend initiatives, policies and infrastructure improvements that will promote active transportation. This plan will include a special focus on improving access to schools and parks and identifying Safe Routes to School programs. This is a fantastic opportunity for the Village, Park District and District #35 to work together on a community focused project that touches each organization’s mission. I look forward to the public discussion and the recommendations that come from this process.
Should you have interest in serving on a steering committee, made up of local community organization leaders and residents, to help guide the planning process please contact Management Analyst Adam Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org / (847) 461-1115.
Green Bay and North Branch Trails Connection
In 2014, a new bicycle/walking path was installed connecting the Chicago Botanic Garden and the North Branch Trail that terminated in the Garden to the Union Pacific North (UP-N) Metra line at Braeside. Of course, this is also where the connection to Glencoe’s portion of the Green Bay Trail meets Lake Cook Road, and continues north to the McClory Path in Highland Park. This winding path along the south side of Lake Cook Road brought bicyclists and walkers using the North Branch Trail to the foot of the Green Bay Trail, and gave them a great opportunity to loop back south into Glencoe. Unfortunately, the connection to the Green Bay Trail was not able to be completed in 2014. This required users of the trails to crisscross Lake Cook Road, sidestepping around the rail crossing.
I’m excited to report that thanks to the work of the UP and the Forest Preserve District of Cook County partnering to make it happen, a new dedicated at-grade crossing (including a signalized rail crossing) will finally allow bicyclists and walkers a seamless connection between the North Branch and Green Bay Trails. Expect this project to be complete in the next several weeks.
While the Village is not responsible for this project, we are grateful for the work of the Forest Preserve District and UP for their partnership to help increase accessibility for our residents and other users of our wonderful trail systems.
I look forward to the positive outcomes that both projects will have on our community!