Bicycle advocates gathered for a summit in Normal are looking to state officials for the next step in changing American culture to accept bicycles. Gin Kilgore a program manager with the League of Illinois Bicyclists says she has high hopes for a statewide bicycle plan due out in the fall from the Department of Transportation.
"We are almost at the maximum of what we can do within our existing infrastructure. So I think the plan will give us a good chance to reflect on what bolder steps we can take in the future.
State law requires new road construction to take bicycles into account. And Kilgore says a study done on bicycle use in Champaign-Urbana shows that and acceptance by planners when changes are made to existing roads have created more space for bicycles.
"You could see over time the changes in planning and how IDOT and the local agencies are working really hard to see where bicycle improvements can be made. It's really context sensitive."
She cautions one size does not fit all in the effort to integrate bicycles and 30 mile an hour autos.
"Bike lanes have been very helpful at bringing more cyclists out. But, we're going to need better facilities separated from traffic. Riding close to cars is a major concern for people."
Kilgore says the transportation system really needs to be redesigned from the top. Another barrier to broad bicycling is simply cultural and that often changes only one rider at a time.
"Hey how did you ride a bike in your dress or how did you carry all those groceries? And my stock response would be oh it's easy, It's no big deal. But, actually to a lot of people it is a big deal. They don't know that you don't have to wear specialized clothes to ride a bicycle or that it's pretty easy to equip your bike with bags or have a trailer."
Kilgore says although it's not the most efficient, one on one interactions is a very powerful way to change bicycle acceptance.
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