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.
City Code Article XIX Regulations for Bicycles
Chapter 29: Section 158: Traffic Laws Apply to Persons Riding Bicycles.
- 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.
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
City Council Meeting: July 10, 2017 (includes the minutes of the Planning Commission meeting)
Bicycle Master Plan: 2015