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DeKalb Sycamore Area Transportation Study open houses to determine transportation needs

DeKALB – In order to get public input on active transportation, the DeKalb Sycamore Area Transportation Study will hold a series of open houses to identify needs of people who might not rely on motor vehicles for travel.

Jessica Hyink, DeKalb assistant transportation planner, said the aim is to get a vast number of viewpoints on active transportation, which is any means of human-powered transportation, such as walking or cycling, as a means of travel.

“Active transportation affects people of all ages, and we want to make sure everyone has an opportunity to let us know in some way what their needs are,” Hyink said. “These first open houses are really to let us know what people want in the community, such as where they want to be able to bike or where they have issues crossing the street.”

The first open house will be at 3 p.m. Tuesday at the Sycamore Public Library, and the second will be at 6 p.m. at the DeKalb Public Library. The last will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Northern Illinois University Holmes Student Center.

Instead of a typical public comment format, Hyink said the events will be more activity-based.

One such activity will be for participants to write their suggestions on leaf-shaped pieces of paper that will be attached to a large tree poster. Another will be maps on which people can mark with stickers where they want to see bike trails, sidewalk improvements or other community needs.

“We will use this information to prioritize infrastructure improvements that people want,” Hyink said. “We have limited funding, so we want to maximize what we can do for the community with what we have.”

Mark Schuller, an NIU associate professor with the Center for Nongovernmental Organization Leadership and Development, has a class whose students have been involved with active transportation plans and will assist with the open houses.

“It’s like they are interning with DSATS under Hyink’s direction,” Schuller said. “This class is a nonprofit, community engagement class, and they are basically consultants, but they have been actively involved with dialogue on active transportation.”

Once a development plan has been made, there will be a second series
of open houses in the fall to see
whether DSATS staff covered the
appropriate concerns.

“If there was something we missed from the first open houses and we get new feedback, we can readjust our target improvements and submit a final development plan,” Hyink said.

Hyink said she constantly has been applying for grant money to fund active transportation improvements, and it’s important to work with other communities in the region to secure grants.

For those who can’t attend one of the open houses, DSATS also is seeking community input through a survey on the city of DeKalb’s website.

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Active transportation open houses

Tuesday
3 to 5 p.m., Sycamore Public Library, 103 E. State St.
6 to 8 p.m., DeKalb Public Library, 309 Oak St.

Wednesday
11 a.m. to 1 p.m., NIU Holmes Student Center Promenade Lounge, 340 Carroll Ave.

Can’t make an open house? Visit shawurl.com/31ws to take the survey online.

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