Plans underway for first statewide bike path

The Illinois Department of Transportation plans to improve sustainability and livability through a new statewide bike path plan.

Josh Kauffman, IDOT’s public relations representative, said this will be Illinois’ first statewide bikeway. The goals of the path are to establish a new and interconnecting bike trail network and provide cyclists with more options and benefits, Kauffman said. IDOT accepted contractor bids for the project until Tuesday, and Kauffman said there will be some time between reviewing them and actually establishing the paths.

“For those who use bikes, especially in both urban and country areas, it is very feasible,’’ he said.

Kauffman said the effort could also cause state and local legislatures to create bike lanes when they improve roads and provide bike paths that interconnect in communities across the state.

“This is a step in the right direction for sustainable and e n v i r o n m e n t a l l y – f r i e n d l y transportation options for all Illinoisans,” Kauffman said.

A part of IDOT and the governor’s mission is to focus on options to make environmentally efficient transportation methods in the state, Kauffman said.

Kauffman said this plan is a part of IDOT’s sustainability and green efforts to make cycling a more viable and alternative option for those who use different transportation forms than mass transit and personal vehicles.

Evan Truesdale, a senior from Chicago studying political science as well as a sales associate and mechanic for Carbodale’s Bike Surgeon said such a plan would help Carbondale cyclists with the several problems they face on the road.

“The biggest problem is that there is no continuous network of bike trails connecting north, east, west, and south Carbondale,” he said.

Truesdale also said students who live in The Reserve apartments, which are south of campus, have a hard time cycling to school.

“There are no bike paths and poor lighting, as well a lot of glass and debris on the shoulder of the road,”he said. “Driving from the Reserve to campus is practically impossible.”

Another issue is that the city cleans bike paths poorly, Truesdale said. The Beautify Carbondale organization employs volunteers to help clean up these paths, Truesdale said, but it is still a problem.

“Glass, for example, is a noticeable problem,” he said. “I have many customers who come in with a flat tire.”

Truesdale said he would like to see a network of bike trails connect the small area towns such as Murphysboro, Marion and Anna as well as one that leads from the Amtrak train station to more city destinations.

“This way, people coming in from the train station could have the businesses of Carbondale more accessible,” Truesdale said.

Although a statewide plan is in the works, a new bike path in Carbondale that will go from the Student Center to the Town Square was also approved by the City Council last May.

Meghan Cole, executive director for Carbondale Main Street, said she is really excited about the path. She said it was a cooperative effort the city and SIU made to make downtown Carbondale more accessible to students.

“The Main Street path will provide a new useful functionality as well as beautify the area the path will be implemented at,” Cole said.

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