By Bob Uphues
A long-awaited plan to install dozens of new bicycle racks in downtown Riverside is about to come to fruition.
Last week the village sought bids for the grant-funded project with Community Development Director Sonya Abt telling the Landmark, "We're hoping they'll be installed before the end of May."
Riverside won a federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) grant through the Illinois Department of Transportation back in 2016 to install bike racks in the downtown area to complement the village's comprehensive streetscape improvements on East Burlington Street, Longcommon Road and Riverside Road.
Initially, the village contemplated both freestanding bike racks in key spots in the downtown business district as well as covered bike shelters near the downtown train station. However, the village board decided against the shelters, reducing the scope of the project somewhat.
In the village's 2020 budget, elected officials earmarked about $46,000 to install 50 new bike racks at 11 locations downtown. Of that amount, the federal grant will cover about $36,800, leaving the village to fund the remaining $9,200.
"We're excited to get this project in the ground," Abt said.
In some cases, the new racks – each of which allows bike owners to lock the frames and wheels to the U-shaped steel – will replace old, obsolete racks already in place. Others, such as the 12 racks slated to be located near the corner of Pine Avenue and Longcommon Road opposite the north Metra platform, are new.
Right now, many of those biking to the station lock their bicycles to the metal railing that lines the north platform. Other new bike rack locations include two that will be placed outside Athletico, 49 E. Burlington St.; three outside A Cut Above Dog Grooming, 37 E. Burlington St.; and two outside the takeout door at La Barra Ristorante, 2 E. Burlington St.
New U-shaped bike racks, all of which will match the ones installed as part of the Metra station improvements at Riverside and Bloomingbank roads in 2019, will replace existing bike racks outside the Riverside Township Hall, 27 Riverside Road; Riverside Public Library, 1 Burling Road; next to the tracks north of Riverside Plumbing, 3 Longcommon Road; outside Pre-Hop Cleaners, 5 E. Burlington St.; outside Aunt Diana's, 29 E. Burlington St.; and outside Riverside Foods, 48 E. Burlington St.
Bids will be opened on Feb. 3 and the Riverside Village Board will then need to award a contract for the work. It will take some time to receive the bike racks from the vendor once they're ordered, said Abt, which is why officials are hoping for installation no later than late spring.
According to the bid documents, whoever is awarded the contract will have 15 working days to complete the bike rack installation.