The recent death of Arlington Heights resident Barbara Pagano, as she walked the path at Lake Arlington, has prompted the Arlington Heights Park District to revisit the history of the path as it considers feasible options to minimize congestion between skaters, strollers, walkers and cyclists.
History of Pathway System at Lake Arlington
Developed with OSLAD and Department of Conservation bike grants
Lake Arlington encourages a healthy lifestyle and makes Arlington Heights an attractive city in which to live, work and play. What originally began as an effort to ease flooding problems within the McDonald Creek watershed in 1990 has long since provided a broad range of leisure activities and numerous biking trails increasing connectivity within the community – just as it had been envisioned by Park District and Village officials at the time.
Lake Arlington’s 2.8 mile pathway system was funded by three separate bike grants totaling $425,000. This obliges the Park District to preserve the path system for bicyclists. These grants, from the Open Space Land Acquisition & Development (OSLAD) grant program and the Illinois Bicycle Path Grant Program (through the Department of Conservation) funded the construction of the path around the lake, bike trail, four bridges and three, eight (8) foot wide, asphalt connector trail segments to the Lake Arlington-McDonald Creek Bicycle Trail.
Today, Lake Arlington is one of the largest destination facilities in the northwest suburbs and is home to a variety of recreation programs including the popular Adventure Camp for ages 9-14 and Sailing Camps for ages 8-14. Sailing lessons for kids and adults are also offered and visitors are allowed to catch and release fish. Visitors may also rent sailboats and paddle-boats, boaters are allowed to launch their own craft and a convenient boat and storage area holds boats up to 14’ long and 4’ wide to accommodate canoes, rowboats, kayaks, crew boats and sailboats.
Interim Action Plan for Lake Arlington Bike/Walking Paths
The Park District will be implementing interim modifications to the path which include:
- Restrict bicycle and other wheeled use to the outside lane of the path and require travel only in a counter clockwise direction every day. This would allow for right hand turns as these users enter the path from all points.
- Designate the inside lane of path for walkers only (would allow strollers and wheelchairs) who would always travel in a clockwise direction.
- Install additional, high visibility, signage to show walking and biking directions and display speed limits for wheeled use.
- Stencil paint directly onto the path to visually show walkers with directional arrows on the inside of the path and bikers, roller bladers with directional arrows on the outside lane of the path around the entire path to further reinforce what is appropriate and what is not. Cross walk areas will be painted on the path at all entry points.
- Collaborate with the Police Department and other local organizations to heighten awareness and to develop a mutual respect between bicyclists and pedestrians.
- Launch an informational campaign to raise awareness and to educate all users of interim path changes and so that they understand their responsibility in ensuring their own safety and the safety of all users.
These are just a few of the initial ideas that the Park District is considering implementing as soon as possible to alleviate conflicts between wheeled and non-wheeled visitors. The District will subsequently move forward with exploring more permanent modification options as it approaches its capital budget planning process in the fall. In 2012, residents voted against the Park District issuing referendum bonds for capital improvements at Lake Arlington. Some of the referendum funds would have added a new concentric, gravel or softer surface path That path was to have been designated as a running or walking path. The District may revisit this idea in the fall as it goes through its planning process.
The Park District will host a public meeting in October and will encourage residents to attend to review potential permanent modifications plans and to provide input. As part of this process the Arlington Heights Park District will also set up a location on its website (www.ahpd.org) for all citizens to offer their suggestions and evaluate the interim path changes.
Barbara Pagano’s death was a tragic accident. Since 2003, there has been an average of four incidents per year, which includes non-path related incidents such as fishing without a license or swimming. None of the incidents, prior to Mrs. Pagano’s death, involved serious injuries. The Park District strives to provide safe facilities for all of its patrons however, it is expected that anyone using them take the time to be aware of, understand and abide by usage guidelines. These guidelines are established to mitigate potential harm or risk to all path users. Lake Arlington’s path was built in compliance with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation (AASHTO) guidelines for multi-use paths.
The Arlington Heights park system offers over 30 outdoor walking/bike paths of varying length and help residents stay active and/or get from one park or neighborhood to another on foot or on a bike.
Soon Camelot Community Center will feature a new, elevated indoor walking track, increasing the community’s walking options even throughout the cold and snowy winter months.
Mission Statement - The Arlington Heights Park District enriches the community by providing quality recreation, facilities and fun.