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Community bike share coming to Grayslake

by Public Relations and Marketing | Published Feb 03, 2021

It began with an idea by College of Lake County (CLC) Sustainability Manager David Husemoller and a conversation with sustainability-minded Grayslake resident Mary Klees. Now, after more than three years in collaboration, they are seeing the work pay-off with the creation of a community bike share program.

Top view of a man parking his bike at a bike stand“Grayslake Bikeshare is a way for our community to see something new and interesting. Something you don’t often see outside of big cities or university campuses,” said Klees. “It’s important to create collaboratively and sustainably so our community can become the best version of itself.”

Locals who have ventured to Chicago may be familiar with their Divvy Bikes. The Grayslake program would be similar with more than a dozen bikes made available to anyone who wants to ride, on a short-term basis. As the college’s sustainability council grew, Husemoller handed CLC’s part in the project off to Shannon Bassi, an administrative assistant at the college who also has a passion for sustainability.

“One of the best ways to help people understand how to incorporate sustainable practices into their lives, regardless of age or location, is through experience,” said Bassi. “A bike share is a fantastic tool for experiential learning.”

The college’s student government, health and wellness council and sustainability council are joining with the Village of Grayslake, Grayslake Area Public Library District and the Grayslake Community Park District to make the initial two-year commitment. Each sees the bike share as having a positive impact on their organization’s goals, such as CLC’s health and wellness council.

"A bike share program provides increased physical activity, supports social wellness when riding with others, enhances awareness of environmental wellness and generally improves one’s outlook on life by reducing stress,” said CLC Wellness Labs Coordinator and member of the health and wellness council Lisa Aguilar. “Increased intellectual wellness can also be offered by visiting the little lending libraries on the living lab trail or stopping by the farm to support choices for nutritional wellness. The bike share provides a variety of health and wellness benefits.”

The pilot program will kick-off in this spring with each group sponsoring a set number of bikes and stations to include CLC’s Grayslake Campus, the Grayslake Metra station, downtown Grayslake and Grayslake’s Central Park. Yes, this is a true community collaboration, but Klees is hoping the program will grow to encompass many partners across all of Lake County.

“I had always conceived of it being a county-wide program,” said Klees. “One obstacle potential partner organizations and municipalities have is a lack of data. There is not a lot of data specific for our specific area.”

After the common riding season wraps up in late fall 2021, the program will produce a first glimpse into how and how often the bikes were used. Both Bassi and Klees expect to see a variety of trips taken by CLC students, staff and the Grayslake community.

“The bike share is not limited to students or employees of CLC, it is for everyone in the community,” said Bassi. “People are welcomed and encouraged to take a bike and explore the forest preserve, our campus and the living lab trail, downtown Grayslake and neighboring amenities. Metra riders can jump on a bike at the station, get to CLC, then get themselves back to the train really nicely. Unlike driving a gas-powered vehicle, riding a bike creates zero CO2 emissions, is great exercise and gets people closer to nature; all vital pieces of sustainable living.”

“If someone is dropping their child off to practice at Central Park, instead of sitting in their car for an hour or watching the practice, they can hop on a bike, take a couple laps around the trails,” said Klees. “Maybe ride the bike into town, pick-up coffee, go back and pick-up their child. If our community bike share takes off and potential partners are happy with the data, I imagine you are going to see a lot of other municipalities and organizations sign-up in the coming years.”

Details on precise locations, number of bikes and cost of user fees are still being determined. Klees notes none of the partners view this as a money-making venture but rather a way to build community. The cost for a rider is expected to be very affordable.

About College of Lake County

The College of Lake County is a comprehensive community college committed to equitable high-quality education, cultural enrichment and partnerships to advance the diverse communities it serves in northeastern Illinois. Offered at three campuses in Grayslake, Vernon Hills and Waukegan or online, college classes are affordable and accessible to help each student achieve academic, career and personal goals. More than 70,000 students graduated with degrees and certificates since the college opened in 1969. The College of Lake County is the only higher-education institution ranked among the top 15 best places to work in Illinois by Forbes and is a national leader in many areas, including sustainability and conservation. For details, visit www.clcillinois.edu or call (847) 543-2000.