ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Local cyclists are looking forward to taking to Rockford streets after the City Council approved a 10-year plan designed to make it safer to travel on two wheels.
Jeremy Carter, the City’s Traffic Engineer, said, “What we’re really looking at is the comfort of the cyclist. In some areas, where we just have a sign saying ‘hey, this is a bike route,’ maybe look at putting in an actual, real bike lanes to designate where the bicyclists are supposed to be.”\
Besides increasing the number of bike lanes, plans include widening shoulders on some city streets, installing dividers on busy one-way roads and adding more signage along bike routes.
Carter says certain 4 lane roads could even be reduced to three lanes to give bikers extra room.
“Drivers still tense up a little bit when they see bikers on the street. And a tense driver is worried, ‘what’s that bicyclist going to do, are they going to jet out in front of me?’ and stuff,” he said. “It’s going to make the bicyclists, and quite honestly the vehicle driver, more comfortable.”
Rockford native Patrick Yarbrough is an avid cyclist and member of the “I Bike Rockford” community group.
He thinks Rockford has done a good job adding new bike paths in recent years. Since 2010, the city has added about 45 miles of on-street facilities and 21 miles of multi-use paths for cyclists.
“They are doing some really great things. Reopening the bridge, the Jefferson St. bridge, establishing another bike bridge over the Rock River and maintaining the bike paths that we have,” Yarbrough said.
Yarbrough is optimistic the changes will benefit both dedicated Rockford cyclists and families who might just be looking for a fun way to spend an afternoon.
“I see a lot of people who are riding their bicycles, mother, father, child, and they have the carriers in back with their infants. So many, many people are going to benefit from the improvements,” he added. “This is really exciting for people who ride bicycles in town, and we hope other people come out to ride also.”
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