Tuesday, May 13, 2014

State of Illinois to Invest Millions in Bicycle Infrastructure. But Who Gets What?

The State of Illinois has announced that it will invest $52.7 million in community transportation projects, including substantial funding for bicycle infrastructure throughout the state. Cook County alone will receive over $10 million in funding for projects that directly relate to constructing and improving bicycle infrastructure within the county. This is a massive public works project with projects throughout the Chicagoland area. 

The Illinois Bicycle Lawyers at Keating Law Offices are supporters of public works projects in general and massive supporters of projects that include advancements or improvements to the bicycle infrastructure in Illinois. There are two key reasons why public works projects involving bicycle infrastructure are important. 

The first reason is that "if you build it, they will come." Studies show that outside of hardcore bicyclists, that most recreational bicyclists are most comfortable riding on a bicycle path or on a protected bike lane. The more bike paths and bike lanes Illinois has, the more bicycle ridership will increase. The second reason is that infrastructure specific to bicycles reduces the number of bike accidents. Bicycle attorney Mike Keating explains how bicycle infrastructure reduces the number of bike accidents:
"I call it the separation factor." The more separated bicycle traffic is from motor vehicle traffic the better. Painted bike lanes are good because they provide a clear designation between the lane for bikes and the lane for cars. Signage can also play an important role in this regard. Barrier bike lanes protected with bollards are better because the bollards provide an even clear visual designation and an audible warning if the cars stray into the bike lane. Bike lanes that are truly protected - meaning totally separated from traffic - are best because there is a literal, physical impenetrable barrier between motor vehicle traffic and bicycles."
Below is an itemization of notable bicycle infrastructure projects in Illinois:

Riverdale: Over $2 million to build a 26-mile long, 10-foot wide segment of the Cal-Sag Trail, stretching from Lemont to the Burnham Greenway Trail at the Illinois/Indiana border.

Evanston: Almost $1.4 million to build two-way bike paths off of Sheridan Road from Lincoln Street to Chicago Avenue, and on Chicago between Sheridan and the Central Business District. The goal is to connect these two-way paths with existing protected bike paths.

Des Plaines:
Over $1.2 million to build a path for bicycles and pedestrians along the south side of US Route 12, from Central Road to Elk Boulevard. This will close a major gap in the sidewalk network and create a continuous bicycle corridor throughout Des Plaines, which should greatly reduce bicycle accidents.

Glenview: Over $1 million to build a 2-mile, off-road path segment as a new addition to bike trail systems within Glenview.

Countryside: Almost $1 million to build a multi-use bike path on the east side of Brainard Avenue from Joliet Road to 55th Street.

Hillside: Over $800,000 to build a multi-use pathway for pedestrians and bicyclists on Mannheim Road, over the Interstate 290 interchange. This change will increase bicycle safety and reduce bicycle accidents in a high-traffic area.

Rolling Meadows: Almost $700,000 to build a 10-ft wide asphalt path along Euclid Avenue, running from Rohlwing Road until it connects with the bike path on Salt Creek Trail.

Skokie: Over $600,000 to build an asphalt, bituminous bike path as a part of the Village Corridor Plan to link all of the pedestrian-heavy areas in the heart of Skokie.

Itasca: Over $500,000 to build 0.67 miles of bike paths and sidewalks throughout the Hamilton Lakes Business Park.

Olympia Fields:
Almost $500,000 to build a 1.25 mile-long, multi-use trail and bike path on Vollmer Road. It will connect to existing trails in the area.

University Park: Almost $500,000 to build a 2-mile long, 10 foot wide, asphalt bike path and trail to link residential neighborhoods with a retail district at Western Avenue and Exchange Street.

Western Springs: Almost $500,000 is to build a bike path to connect with the Salt Creek Trail system, affording bicyclists and pedestrians from La Grange, Western Springs, and Hinsdale easy access to the trail system and the pedestrian bridge over I-294 on Maple Street.

Carol Stream: Almost $300,000 to build additions to the Bloomingdale Trail, including a 0.71-mile, off-street bikeway along Kuhn Road from Army Trail Road to Lies Road, and a 1.01-mile, off-street bikeway along Lies from Gary Avenue to Schmale Road.

Calumet City: Almost $200,000 to build a 0.78 mile-long trail and bike path on Torrence Avenue, which will connect at the intersection of Torrence and 159th Street with another bike path in the works.

Berwyn: Almost $100,000 to build sidewalks and install bike route signage throughout the city, which should help tremendously in reducing bicycle accidents in Berwyn. Signage plays a key role in "human factors" by alerting motorists of the presence of bicyclists and giving direction to bicyclists.

Northbrook: Over $50,000 to install pavement markings and street signs for bicycle routes, which will make the suburb safer for bicyclists and reduce bicycle accidents.

The Illinois Bicycle Lawyers are excited about these extensive improvements because we strongly believe that the new infrastructure will substantially reduce bicycle accidents throughout Cook County and make streets safer for Illinois bicyclists.

If you have any questions regarding this post or an issue involving Illinois personal injury law, contact Illinois Bicycle Attorney Mike Keating at 312-208-7702 or MKeating@KeatingLegal.com 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All e-mails and phone calls are returned promptly. All initial consultations are confidential and free.