More bike lanes are on the way

Peoria working to make streets safer for bike riders

By Roger Sadler, reporter

July 14, 2014 Updated Jul 15, 2014 at 9:49 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- For years, bicycle riders in Peoria have complained that city streets are not friendly places for people getting around on two wheels.

Some local biking groups had been complaining that it was not only inconvenient to ride a bicycle on the streets of Peoria, but it was dangerous as well. That's why the groups pushed for more bike lanes.

Their efforts paid off. In March, Peoria's director of public works and the city manager hired Alta Planning and Design to do the work.

In south Peoria, work is already underway on new bike lanes on Howett Street and Lincoln Avenue.

Brad Nauman is a member of Bike Peoria, a group that has spearheaded the effort to get more bike lanes in the city.

"It's amazing what a four-foot painted striped lane can do to really encourage people that this (biking) is a safe thing to do," he said.

Right now, only a handful of city streets have designated bike lanes.

Nauman is happy to see the progress so far. He says it will help Peoria keep pace with other places.

"All you have to do is look at neighboring communities like Dunlap, Washington and Metamora. They have bike lanes or bike infrastructure or paths. The city of Peoria kind of lacks that."

Nauman and Bike Peoria have worked on the effort with the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission to get the wheels rolling on the entire effort.

Tri-County's Maggie Martino says getting more people riding their bikes can only be a plus.

" We have a high level of ozone here in Peoria," she said. "The more you drive, the more cars put out emissions, the more that you increase that ozone level. So if we can get more people here and there to be walking, riding their bike, taking mass transit, that can help our overall air quality in Peoria."

She adds that the cost of putting in bike lanes is cheap compared to other street projects. "Most bike paths are going to be on existing streets. So the cost is not going to be too great. It's going to mean some striping and some resurfacing of some streets."

Nauman says it's a good investment. "It's something like a hundred dollars for every ten feet, but it's all in paint costs."

Nauman admits there are some people who are opposed to the bike lanes. Opponents say more bicycles on the streets mean more traffic headaches and more chances for car-bicycle accidents.

Nauman, though, says education is the key. " We're working with the city to promote cycling lanes, cycling advocacy, education of motorists, so that it becomes safer for everybody to ride."