Guest Writer: Bike Lanes

The truth about adding bike lanes on Washington Street has little to do with safety, as Bike BloNo would have everyone believe.

There are Illinois State Statutes as well as municipal codes governing the safe use of bicycles.

https://www.activetrans.org/sites/files/Illinois%20statutes.pdf

City Code Article XIX Regulations for Bicycles

Chapter 29:  Section 158: Traffic Laws Apply to Persons Riding Bicycles.

  1. Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by the laws of this State…

Chapter 29 of the Municipal Code also provides requirements for the condition of a bicycle, specifically being equipped with appropriate lights and reflectors for riding at night and functioning brakes.

Here is where it becomes interesting because cyclists don’t want to have to stop, get off their bike, and walk. The Code states,

When making a left turn, every person riding a bicycle shall stop at the right curb and walk the bicycle across at the intersection.”

Chapter 29 also informs us as to the correct way to ride a bicycle on the roadway.

Chapter 29 : Section 161 : Riding on Roadways and Bicycles Paths.

(a) …as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable…

(b) …shall not ride more than two abreast

(c) Wherever a usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to the roadway, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the roadway.

There are penalties assigned for violation of these ordinances, which include up to a $50 fine and/or impounding the bicycle for up to ten (10) days.

Regulations for pedestrians are also included in Chapter 29. “No pedestrian shall cross a roadway other than in a marked crosswalk or an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection except where a tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing is provided.” There is no mention of wheelchairs but common sense would place that mode of transportation in the pedestrian category. Since it is not specifically included, one never knows for sure.

The Complete Streets POLICY has been turned into an ORDINANCE and can be found in the City Code Chapter 38: Article XII: Section 180. Section 180.1 provides the definition. There can be exemptions made, according to Section 181.2. For the life of me, I can’t find anything in Chapter 38 that improves the safety for multi-modal transportation users. There is no reference to any other section of the City Code relating to transportation.

http://www.cityblm.org/government/codes-ordinances/city-code

Back to Bike BloNo and the reason for it’s very existence. In order for Bloomington to be AWARDED the distinction of a “Bicycle Friendly City,” just like the Town of Normal and Champaign, there are several criteria. One is a Bicycle Advocacy Group—Bike BloNo—thus the addition of their logo to the cover of the Master Plan as part of the amendment. Others include adoption of a Bicycle Master Plan and Complete Street Policy, a full-time Staff person (newly budgeted Traffic Engineer position), a bicycle council (newly formed Traffic Advisory Commission having at least 3 cyclists appointed by the Mayor), 1.2% of the population commuting by bicycle, a ratio of Bike Network Mileage to Road Network Mileage of 26%, and 33% of arterial streets having bicycle lanes. Those criteria are to attain the lowest award level of Bronze. So you see, adding Washington Street from Lee to St. Joe’s Drive will add to the requirement to meet their goal. Additional infrastructure expense is necessary to reach the level of Gold or the highest level of Diamond.

It doesn’t matter that the center, concrete safety barrier that guides left turners from Towanda on to Washington will be removed to accommodate the bike lanes. It doesn’t matter that there is an off set, congested 4-way stop at Mercer. It doesn’t matter that there are many driveways and side streets where left turns are necessary. It doesn’t matter that the bike paths along Washington from Lee to St. Joe’s Drive will consist of a variety of confusing configurations to meet the deficiencies of the roadway. It doesn’t matter that the Planning Commission amended the Bicycle Master Plan Amendment in order to further study several potentially dangerous intersections. The Council just ignored the Planning Commission’s recommendation. It doesn’t matter that E. Washington between Kreitzer and Mercer is a unique, historic neighborhood similar to Clinton between Empire and Emerson. The AWARD is all that matters.

Aside from the lack of transparency due to the fact the decision to amend the Bicycle Master Plan to include Washington Street was made behind closed doors prior to public input and the public hearings, there was a comment made at the Planning Commission Meeting by one of Renner’s appointees…”Ms. Headean expressed concern for the adjacent residents but stated owning a car should be a barrier to travel in the community; she believes the (bike) path aligns with the comprehensive plan.”  (See page 420 of the July 10, 2017 Council meeting below)

Her comment is disconcerting. I’m not sure what she means.

Planning Commission Meeting: June 14, 2017

http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=13103

City Council Meeting: July 10, 2017 (includes the minutes of the Planning Commission meeting)

http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=14201

Bicycle Master Plan: 2015

http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=8582

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Comments

  1. Ms. Headean is probably pretty unpopular with Tari, the bike people and the leftist crowd for actually giving away what the real intent is for these bike lanes – to get people out of privately-owned property, and on to more controllable, centralized modes of transportation – most of which is govt controlled and subsidized. This is about central planning (some call it Agenda 21). Not bike safety, and not about the environment. It’s about money and control.

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  2. I’m at a loss! REALLY!! as kids who grew up in Bloomington, we didn’t need helmets, much less bike lanes.. We rode ALL OVER collecting stickers, from east of veterans to north Normal. But I guess as 10 year olds we had more common sense then the Bike Blo-No folks, as we knew enough to get OFF our bikes and walk across the BUSY streets and stay to the right, as the cars were bigger then us. I guess as kids we didn’t have inflated egos either. We were just HAPPY to be out of the house and have twinkles or donuts and a soda for lunch…. OH, for those good old summer days off and GOOD old common sense.
    THANK YOU for the guest editorial, and the old days.

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    • Last Monday one of the Bike Blono guys told the story of a mom calling him about her daughter riding from around Hershey north of Empire to Barnes and Noble. He couldn’t tell her a safe path. Walking the bike across the street at a stop light NEVER crossed their minds. Expect plans for an underpass soon, first they need to waste millions studying an overpass.

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      • McCurdy’s comment was off topic since the hearing was about the Washington St. amendment. Renner didn’t call him out of order.

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  3. Thinking that a painted stripe on the roadway will insure safety for a bicyle is absolutely stupid! The presence of bike lanes on busy streets encourages children to ride there. IF safety were the main concern, then bicycles would be seperated from vehicle traffic but no way does the city have money for that.

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  4. Yet they DO NOT allow skate boards on the court house, and other PUBLIC buildings property, guess the skateboarders NEED to be more vocal. Grove street WOULD have been a better choice.

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    • Common Sense and Government do NOT go together. Implementing an agenda does though. (Their agenda – not yours)

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    • Grove Street is already included. Washington Street is added to increase the number of bike lanes.

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      • Yes, because of the hundreds, no thousands of bikes that will soon be spinning their wheels on our lovely perfectly paved streets! I am out driving in BloNo every day I seldom see more than 5-7 bikes in an entire afternoon, unless you count the ones on the Trail. It’s just a little less than the number of people I see on the buses.

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  5. According to the packet material for the Council meeting, bicycles will have the right-of-way at intersections and cars turning right will have to yield. That already is the case, according to the rules of the road, from a stopped position–like pedestrians in a crosswalk, but very dangerous while traffic is moving. Of course there will be special green lane markings and signs to notify drivers to “stop and look right over your shoulder for upcoming cyclists” before turning right. Brilliant!! Who will be responsible for teaching this to the general public. Left turners stopping to wait for a break in oncoming traffic and now right turners having to stop before making a right turn during a green light all from a single lane. This will certainly “slow” traffic.

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    • Culling the herd of cyclists. Who knew?

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    • Dawson Lake says:

      “bicycles will have the right-of-way at intersections and cars turning right will have to yield.” “That already is the case from “stopped” position. Note, from a already stopped position. If this new interpretation becomes fact, the best new business for this area is Auto Body Shops that specialize in front end and rear end damage plus blood removal.

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      • mittenpaws says:

        Don’t forget increased need for health providers, physical therapists and funeral directors. The legal profession will have a field day

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  6. In 2015, 18,844 cyclists were injured in reported road accidents, including 3,339 who were killed or seriously injured. https://www.rospa.com/road-safety/advice/pedal-cyclists/facts-figures/

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  7. Thats Meagan Headean who is on the planning commission. Not Aggie Hedin.

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