State Bike Plan Taking Shape

Jul 19, 2013

The state of Illinois wants to become a more welcoming place for cyclists. But will the effort be enough to win over bike riders?

IDOT is hosting public hearings this summer as it gathers feedback on a statewide bicycle transportation plan. The recommendations will address things like how to make roads safer for cyclists, and how to establish regional biking networks.

In Chicago, the agency's relationship with riders has been a rocky one. They're upset because the city has been blocked by IDOT in its effort to add protected bike lanes. IDOT says more data is needed before giving its consent.

In other parts of Illinois, advocates say IDOT's efforts on a statewide plan can't be ignored. Tobie DePauw is with Axletree, a cycling advocacy group based in DeKalb. He says there is a positive element to consider here.

"I'm just happy that they're receptive to change and that they're listening to individual communities as opposed to specific groups that have an agenda," DePauw said.

DePauw says his group aims to create awareness by having a civilized discussion about the need to improve bike safety and accessibility in Illinois. He says the responsibility falls on cyclists, and not just motorists, to ensure that both sides have enough room on the roads. He says that kind of attitude might make it easier to convince drivers to accommodate cyclists as much as they can.

Meanwhile, I-DOT's study is expected to be completed as 2014 rolls around. One of their next hearings will be held in Rockford on Thursday, July 25th. It's scheduled to begin at 6:30 that evening at the Regional Design Center.