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New bike signage will come to Wheaton next spring

WHEATON – Residents who prefer to travel on two wheels will soon find Wheaton's streetscape a bit easier to navigate.

The city will install signs directing bicyclists to safe paths and city landmarks as soon as next spring, according to Wheaton Director of Engineering Paul Redman.

Councilman John Prendiville said he was in favor of the engineering agreement to spend about $180,000, including $36,000 in city money, to fund a study examining the placement of signs as a way to "encourage people to use bicycles more and more."

The resolution passed with a 5-2 vote during a Sept. 16 Wheaton City Council meeting.

"I work in downtown Chicago, where many bike lanes have been set up and I think it's a great thing to see many people using bicycles to get around rather than cars," Prendiville said.

The study is part of the Wheaton Bike Plan, a larger effort by the city to be more accessible to cyclists adopted in late 2011, according to Redman. Other possible improvements include more bike paths on and alongside roadways and safe biking education programs, according to city documents.

The study will take about four months to complete, Redman said. Then a public bid for the sign project will be held.

The two opposing votes at Monday's meeting were cast by councilmen John Rutledge and Thor Saline, both of whom said they believed the council should have spent more time discussing whether the city needed to spend $36,000 on the study. The remaining estimated $144,160 will be paid for by a federal grant program.

Rutledge said that he considered the project a "poor use" of city money, especially in comparison to the $190,000 the council approved the same evening to fund a floodwater study for a local neighborhood.

"Thinking in terms of what we're going to get for $180,000, I frankly think this is a very poor use of $180,000 and I think it's a poor use of our own $36,000," he said.

Saline said he was of a similar opinion as Rutledge.

"It was already budgeted, so I was kind of going back and forth," he said. "Do we really need the services or not? Could we, in fact, get this grant in another year? We didn't really talk about it."

After the initial project vote, however, Rutledge and Saline voted to approve Sam Schwartz Engineering as the contractor for the study.

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