ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Rockford is adding new bike lanes all across the city.
It is part of Rockford’s second “10 Year Bike Plan.” The goal is to make it safer for both bicyclists and drivers, and to help cyclists feel more comfortable while riding.
“It’s legal to ride on the side walks, so we have to be in the street, which unfortunately a lot of drivers don’t understand,” said local bicyclist Stewart Oakes.
Oakes said that he has been biking for four years and rides four times a week. He added that having bike lanes is important for the safety of both cyclists and drivers.
“Cycling has becoming pretty popular, and if you look at major cities in the US they’re very cycling friendly,” Oakes said. “So, I think it could potently, you know, draw more people to Rockford if it’s known as a cycling friendly city for sure.”
Sandy Triplett, another local cyclist, said that she had been riding since 8 a.m. on Tuesday and noticed an improvement, that drivers are more pleasant and cautious when she is on the road.
“You know, I’m not trying to get in their way, I’m not trying to stop them from doing what they have to do,” Triplett said. “They’re not trying to stop me and I love it.”
Jeremy Carter, Rockford’s traffic and development engineer, said that the City has been making improvements so drivers know when they are sharing the road with cyclists. They have put bicycle markings on roads and installed bike detection cameras.
“A third of our population doesn’t drive from the stand point they are too young, too old or a car is prohibitively expensive, and so providing these active transportation alternatives is a priority to the city,” Carter said.
Oakes said that he would like to see actual dividers on the road for the protection of cyclists.
“It’s a two-way street for sure,” Oakes said. “Cyclists need to obey the rules of the road and drivers need to share the road for sure.”
The City said that there will be more improvements in the next eight years.