Viewpoint by Corey Mattson. Opinions don’t represent BloNo Critical Mass as a whole.
BloNo Critical Mass kicked off the spring riding season on March 29th with a free-spirited social ride down Main Street, the street which is the subject of much-needed bicycle and pedestrians improvements. Critical Mass is a fun, bike-celebratory ride each last Friday of the month, when bicyclists ride together for enjoyment and spread good will to others during their social commute.
Critical Mass in BloNo
BloNo Critical Mass began last year, soon after a locally commissioned study decided on the feasibility of bike lanes on Main Street in Bloomington-Normal. Many people support the conclusions of the Main Street Transportation Feasibility study, which is that a bike lane (and narrower car lanes) would reduce car speeds on Main Street to posted speed limits of 30 mph and build community in what is now a neglected area.
Critical Needs on Main Street
Along the Main Street journey, bicyclists participating in Critical Mass ride in a car lane, which is their right, and motorists are able to pass them in an adjoining lane. However, the trip would be much more comfortable for everyone if there were a bike lane on the street. As the photos below show, there is already plenty of room for a bike lane, which could be added with restriping of the road.
In 2012, the Main Street Feasibility Study advised that a bike lane is feasible on the Main Street corridor, citing the current extra-wide car lanes that promote speeding on the stretch. Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) guidelines specify, in the advent of road resurfacing on a highway, that bike lanes be seriously considered when their inclusion is already a part of local planning. A bike lane on Main Street is suggested by the aforementioned study and the Normal Bike-Ped plan.
We need revamped, ‘Complete Streets’, infrastructure on Main Street that meets the needs of all residents.
For pedestrians on Main Street, the situation is worse. The bridge over Sugar Creek is so decrepit that walking over it is impossible. Pedestrians attempting to walk south over the creek are faced with a confusing, contradictory sign that directs walkers to the other side of the street (there is no sidewalk on the other side of Main Street), with an arrow pointing the opposite direction suggesting that walkers take side streets away from the corridor.
Priorities and Will
When politicians speak of upgrading our infrastructure, we need to ask questions. Where does that money go?
We need better infrastructure, and construction workers benefit from doing that work. But does money spent on roads continue to benefit car transport over other modes, including more sustainable modes of transportation?
Are more roads the answer, such as an Eastside highway producing yet more sprawl and suburbanization?
We should insist, in an act of solidarity, that construction workers build the green infrastructure of the future. Some governmental agencies have provided some provisional roadmaps, such as the Main Street Feasibility Study and the Normal Bike/Ped Plan, but it will take our political activity to see these plans implemented.
Stay tuned to Just BloNo for reporting on the issue of bike lanes and alternative transportation in our community.