The three candidates for mayor of Normal have differing views on the need for bike paths on town streets. They discussed the issue among several others at a forum held at Illinois State University. Challenger Victor Connor says paths on streets aren't needed because there are numerous less-traveled streets where bicyclists can ride safely.
"In Normal alone we have about 170 miles of streets, most of them side streets that are perfectly fine for bicycling. So I see no need to have special bike paths along streets."
Connor says it would take "tens of millions of dollars" to fully implement Normal's Bike-Pedestrian master plan. He says those funds are better spent elsewhere.
Challenger JeVaughn Martin says he recognizes the need for biking commuters to have a safe ride to and from work and school but he wants more use of sidewalks to keep riders secure with minimal impact on motorists.
"It is important to me that we find a way to merge the two ideas so that we can continue to make bicyclists safe and at the same time give the roads back to our motorists."
Incumbent Mayor Chris Koos, himself a bike shop owner, says he favors a complete street system that offers commuting as well as recreation for bike riders.
"Building east-west access to people, if they choose to, can ride their bikes to work and school.'
All three candidates agree on the need to increase the size and scope of Constitution Trail through the community. The forum was moderated by the McLean County League of Women Voters and was co-sponsored by Illinois State's American Democracy Project, Student Government Association, College Democrats and College Republicans, along with Heartland Community College. Voters in Normal will choose the next mayor during the April 9 municipal election. Early voting begins next Monday.
(The three candidates for Mayor of Normal, incumbent Chris Koos and challengers Victor Connor and JeVaughn Martin, draw lots for speaking order at Wednesday night's ISU forum.)
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