Bicycling advocates are mobilizing in Bloomington-Normal around the issue of safe bicycle transportation.
For many years, there has been a large community supporting biking and alternative forms of transportation in Bloomington-Normal. Two months ago, students at Normal Community High School inspired that community with their bike2school campaign, advocating for bike transportation to school and work. Realizing in their commutes that the Eastside of Bloomington-Normal is inhospitable to bicycle transportation, the students now speak of the need for more bike lanes and paths east of Veterans Parkway.
Soon after the student efforts, bicyclists were jolted recently at the April 23rd Bloomington City Council meeting, when Mayor Steve Stockton and a number of city council members expressed reservations on a proposal to put a bike lane on Main Street. The bike lane was proposed as feasible as part of the Main Street Improvement Feasibility Study, which included plans for a bike lane, reducing unnecessary lanes, upgrading pedestrian walkways, and instituting traffic calming measures.
In the week after the council meeting, pro-bike lane groups organized a number of actions under the coalition Bike BloNo. They started a petition on Change.org, which in four days garnered over 280 signatures from the community and was still growing at the time of this writing. Then, over 60 people attended a Citizen’s Voice meeting on April 30th, speaking in favor of the Main Street corridor lane.
Those in opposition to the bicycle lane, also present during the Citizen’s Voice meeting, argued against governmental spending for the bike lane because of the federal deficit. They also connect it to the form-based code issue, as well as to a conspiracy theory involving a non-binding agreement – Agenda 21 – that was the result of the 1992 Rio de Janeiro climate talks.
Many points were made in favor of a bike lane. Rachel Shively, in her comments, provided a summary:
- Bike lanes on Main Street would make the corridor much safer and more accessible for cyclists. The Feasibility Study indicates that the addition of bike lanes would not have a negative impact on car traffic flow on the street, and adding bike lanes is a low cost improvement that would have a positive impact on the corridor.
- The Constitution Trail, while a huge benefit and a gem of the community, is not always convenient for every trip in traveling North-South. A bicycle lane on the corridor would bring more convenience for bicyclists and promote alternative forms of transportation.
- The results of the Main Street Feasibility Study showed that a strong majority of community members support adding bike lanes on Main Street.
- Bike lanes would promote a traffic-calming effect, provide comfort and safety to pedestrians by offering greater separation between traffic and the sidewalk, and bike lanes would improve safety for motorists because cars would not have to move into another lane to pass a bike.
The people involved in organizing for a Main Street bike lane will continue their efforts in the weeks to come, leading up to the Bike Summit in Normal on May 23rd.