Those who remember the Criterium bicycle races, which drew scores of cyclists to St. Charles, might agree with mayoral candidate John Rabchuk’s idea that the city ought to start promoting itself as a place to ride.
“St. Charles has a golden opportunity to become a cycling hub for northern Illinois,” he said in his latest campaign announcement. “With careful planning and minimal investment, the city of St. Charles, the St. Charles Chamber of Commerce, the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the local cycling community working together should aggressively pursue this opportunity to attract cycling visitors to St. Charles.
“A coordinated and focused effort to create and promote this cycling hub concept will enhance the economic and physical vitality and health of our community,” Rabchuk said.
St. Charles and the Fox River Valley, he said, have a natural beauty that have made the area destination for outdoor recreation. Venues such as the Great Western and Fox River trails were the product of prior planning and the vision of others.
According to Rabchuk, the city of St. Charles and the St. Charles Park District are trying to acquire the abandoned railroad right of way running through the city from south of DuPage Airport to where it ends west of Randall Road.
“If we are successful in obtaining this railroad right of way, it would provide an easy way for cyclists from Chicago and many of the western suburbs to visit St. Charles via the connection of the Prairie Path to our existing trail systems,” Rabchuk said in the release. “Our St. Charles hub will provide cyclists with access to a trail system that extends from Wisconsin through the entire Fox River Valley, as well as to the open countryside of western Illinois.
“In addition, the newly created St. Charles 2013 (draft) Comprehensive Plan, of which I served as task force vice chairman, identified numerous city routes for designated bicycle lanes such as along Prairie, Oak and Dean streets on the west side of town,” he said.
At the same time, Rabchuk said the Kane County Forest Preserve District is considering the creation of dirt/mountain biking courses in the Fabyan Forest Preserve next to the River Trail. He said the district also has been acquiring land steadily along Route 47 for a new north-south trail system.
Making the city a cycling hub puts it in a position to appeal to cyclists from families out enjoying the area’s vistas to the distance and speed cyclists, he said.
Rabchuk said the city should act now to add infrastructure such as water and air stations at various locations in the city, as well as cycle repair stands and an electronic mapping system to offer riders downloadable GPS instructions for the various bike routes.
He said that a recent economic development study in Wisconsin indicates that cyclists have an economic impact of about $18 to $53 per ride.
“Sammy's Bike Shop and The Bike Rack in St. Charles are just two of the local businesses that will immediately benefit from this initiative,” Rabchuk said. “In addition, this initiative will also enhance business for our restaurants and hotels, while promoting the natural beauty and resources that we have been blessed with in St. Charles.”
He also said that if elected, he will create a volunteer commission to study and recommend steps the city can take on the issue. “This is another component of my vision to rekindle the vibrancy of our community,” he said.
- Jan. 30, 2013:St. Charles Mayoral Candidates Pan Rabchuk Bike Plan
- Jan. 30, 2013: Rabchuk Defends Bike Hub Plan for St. Charles
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