By VICKI URBANIK
Want a recommended route to get from Chesterton to Crown Point on bike? Or
the best way to bike from Michigan City to St. John?
A new Northwest Indiana bike map has been prepared and is now available for
public review through August 13. It will go to print and distributed
throughout the three-county region around Labor Day.
The bike map shows all the existing and soon-to-exist bike routes in Lake,
Porter and LaPorte counties, both on- and off-road routes.
The off-road bike trails included on the map are those that exist and those
that have been funded and underway. Of the bike routes that are on county
roads, the routes are rated. Some are labeled as providing excellent biking
conditions with wide lanes or shoulders and minimal traffic. Others are
described as the most suitable route in the area, but that cyclists should be
cautious due to narrow roads or high traffic volume. Another category shows
the designated bike lanes on the roads.
Mitch Barloga, the non-motorized transportation planner for the Northwestern
Indiana Regional Planning Commission, said the map is the first comprehensive
map of its kind that brings together bike routes in the three counties. It
has been in the making for more than a year, with bike clubs and NIRPC
providing input and insight.
Now the general public has the chance to comment.
Barloga said people can make suggestions on where bike routes should go, or
they can give input on whether a route’s rating should be changed. The map
will be adjusted as needed before the public comment period ends.
Barloga said the map gives cyclists an idea of where the safest and best
cycling routes are. The map can also be a tool to promote tourism and
economic development, he said.
“We certainly hope to raise the awareness that there are plenty of great
routes” to ride a bike in Northwest Indiana, he said.
In Porter County, the map includes the Porter County Bikeway system, the
shared-roadway route throughout the county. Some other roads are also
included. One is a loop around Chesterton that includes the entire stretch of
Porter Avenue, from 23rd Street to C.R. 275E., then north to C.R. 1275N.,
then west to Woodlawn, then south on Calumet then west on Broadway.
The map also includes the established trails in Porter County, such as the
Calumet Bicycle Trail and the Prairie Duneland Trail, and the ones funded and
underway, like the Brickyard Trail in Porter and the Iron Horse Trail in
Not included on the map are those trails identified in other plans -- such as
NIRPC’s Ped & Pedal plan and the Porter County Park’s recently revised master
plan -- that might be built in the future but not yet funded. These include
trails along former railroads in south Porter County and a possible link with
Sunset Hill Farm County Park to and from Chesterton and Valparaiso.
Barloga said that after the public comment period ends, the map will go to
the printers and distributed to public agencies, tourism offices, Chambers of
Commerce and bike shops. The first print run will consist of 50,000 maps, to
be funded by a number of sponsoring agencies and businesses.
To review the map, go to NIRPC’s webpage at www.nirpc.org and click on the
bike map link under “What’s New.” A hard copy of the map is also available at
the NIRPC office.
Comments may be emailed to Barloga at email@example.com or mailed to his
attention at NIRPC, 6100 Southport Road, Portage, Ind., 46368.