Over forty-five percent of all vehicle trips are three miles or fewer — an easy bicycle ride for able-bodied people. To encourage residents to leave their car at home for some trips, people on bikes need to feel protected from automobile traffic. CMAP’s Complete Streets Toolkit offers various suggestions to improve safety and the state’s capital bill, Rebuild Illinois, has set aside $50 million to pay for bicycle and pedestrian improvements. The annual program is to be awarded competitively through an expanded Illinois Transportation Enhancements Program (ITEP), with provisions to allow high-need communities easier access to the funds.
Bicycle shop owners have reported huge increases in sales and parents are using the time home with kids to teach them how to ride a bike. Cargo bikes can provide the carrying capacity of a small vehicle for transporting kids, groceries, and even last-mile freight deliveries. As travel bans ease, communities should find ways to help keep people on bikes. Some people with reduced incomes from COVID-19 may find a bicycle to be a more affordable form of transportation. A bicycle also combines exercise with transportation for people who don’t want to return to a gym any time soon.
As the region reopens, municipalities and county officials must work together with the Illinois Department of Transportation to remove barriers to active mobility and adapt public space for emerging needs during COVID-19. Bold creativity and quick actions are needed now from leaders across northeastern Illinois to help residents get around safely on foot or by bicycle.
Which one of these creative solutions could work in your community?