Champaign Named ‘Bicycle Friendly Community’
By Jeff Bossert
The city of Champaign a ‘Bicycle Friendly Community’ by the League of American Bicyclists.
The city’s bronze rating makes Champaign the sixth city in Illinois to be added to that list. Urbana was made part of that list in 2010, and also has bronze rating.
The organization’s president, Andy Clarke, says the city’s infrastructure, mass transit, and public education programs lend themselves to bike traffic.
“Champaign’s made a really good start, and there’s a lot of room for improvement,” he said.
Clarke suggested those upgrades can start with a ‘road diet’ in the infrastructure.
“Take a street that’s got four lanes down to three, with bike lanes on some of the key corridors, especially with kind of high levels of use in and around college, and big activity centers for cycling,” he said. “Those are the kind of streets where perhaps a higher quality separated or protected bike facility would work really well.”
Clarke said there’s always more room for more education efforts, to make sure bicyclists and motorists respect one another.
Champaign Assistant Planning Director Rob Kowalski said funding was included in the city’s capital improvements plan for bike lanes (about $100,000 for every two years.)
“If we’re able to increase that, that would be great,” he said. “But also, when we have to rebuild a road, or resurface a street, we’ve done a much better job of including bicycle infrastructure in that resurfacing or rebuilding, which we haven’t always done in the past.”
Kowalski said Champaign needs improved east-west connections for biking, noting the city will be striping bike lanes on John Street this summer from Prospect Avenue to Kenwood Road.
“We’d love to have a longer stretch like University or Church, but we’re not ready to do that right now,” he said, saying it’s time to address the fringes of the community.
The League of American Bicyclists also commends the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit for accommodating bikes. Other Illinois cities on the ‘Bicycle Friendly Community’ list are Chicago, Evanston, Naperville, and Schaumberg.