A plan is a community-wide, consensus-building creation that will guide future decision-making in the Village. It's a way to test what will and won't work and figure out what residents and business owners do and don't like before further steps are taken to implementation, such as engineering and construction.
It involves a robust community engagement process that reaches all voices of the community; outlines community goals and visions; provides recommendations for the built environment, programs and policies; and provides steps for implementing the recommendations.
This plan specifically will focus on the transportation network and how it can be improved for all users of the roadway, including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, and drivers. A bike and active transportation plan doesn't mean putting a bike lane on every street overnight or taking away your parking. Instead, it involves working the community to determine a feasible and safe network of bike and walking routes and crossing improvements that connect people to destinations they want to reach, either as daily commuters or recreational users. The plan will also include conceptual designs and maps to help you visualize how recommendations will actually look on Wilmette streets.
The heart of any good planning process involves the community. As transportation experts and Village staff, we have some ideas into what may or may not work--but we want to make sure all recommendations of the plan are vetted by the community.
Want to learn more about the ins and outs of an active transportation plan? Visit the Active Trans resource page: atpolicy.org.
How does this benefit the community? A plan helps the Village make community-supported decisions in how to use transportation funding in the future. With limited budgets and resources, it helps prioritize streets for improvement. For example, a planning process could identify an intersection near a school that is need of improvements. If only a limited number of intersections can be improved in a year, this intersection would go to the top of the list.
The plan will also make the Village more competitive in county, state and federal grant applications. A lot of these grants give more weight to projects that are mentioned in a community-adopted plan, especially if the plan will improve walking, bicycling, and access to transit.
Walkable and bikeable communities attract new businesses and developments. Additionally, the ability to be active and walk and bike in a community can improve health and decrease chronic diseases correlated to a less active lifestyle, such as heart disease and diabetes. Not everyone is able to drive, such as children or older residents beyond their driving years. Safety improvements at a signalized intersection may not make much difference to a middle-aged individual, but it could be huge to a 10-year-old wanting to ride their bike to the park or a resident in a retirement home wanting to cross the street to get to the beach. Not to mention, walking and biking is fun and helps build community.