Main Street TIGER support letter

Bike BloNo received an email from IDOT on Thursday asking us to voice our support for an application for federal funding to improve the Main Street corridor from Downtown Bloomington to College Avenue in Normal. The funding source they’re seeking, entitled “Transportation Improvements Generating Economic Recovery” (or, TIGER), is incredibly competitive – out of $134 billion in applications, they’ve only been able to award $4.6 billion in grants since the program was established in 2009. This community already knows the benefits of a successful TIGER grant; Uptown Station was the first completed project in the country to have used TIGER funding. And IDOT, which has decided not to apply for TIGER funding anywhere else in the state this year, believes our Main Street Corridor could be the next winner.

Why does Bike BloNo support this application? You guessed it – IDOT has seen the light. They want to fully implement the recommendations in the 2012 McLean County Regional Planning Commission study that included adding safe, convenient bike lanes on Main Street. The study was an effort to make the entire corridor more bike/pedestrian friendly – promoting 21st-century mixed-use development along the entire stretch from Downtown to ISU and encouraging more business activity in the heart of our community.

We’ve included a copy of our letter to US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx below. And, if you can be there, we’d love to see you in person at the Bloomington City Council meeting at 7pm on Monday to show your support for this project. All you need to do is show up with your helmet – and together we’ll make a powerful statement in support of safe, comfortable bike infrastructure in our community.

Dear Secretary Foxx:

We are writing in support of the Illinois Department of Transportation’s TIGER grant application for the reconstruction of US 51 Business through the cities of Bloomington and Normal. US 51 Business, also known as the Main Street corridor, is the commercial, educational, medical, and entertainment backbone for this regional hub. We formed Bike BloNo in 2012 to centralize community support for bicycle accommodations in response to the Main Street Transportation Improvement Feasibility Study. We are ecstatic to be able to partner with IDOT, the City of Bloomington, and the Town of Normal to voice our support for this project.

Creating a truly multi-modal system along this corridor has been a vision of the twin cities for nearly 10 years and the focus of the Main Street Transportation Improvement Feasibility Study. Completed with input from the community, the study’s goal was revitalization of this corridor by creating a multimodal environment with bicycle accommodations that make active transportation a safe and desirable choice within and around the corridor.

As a primary community corridor, Main Street is vital for development between Bloomington and Normal. This corridor serves two universities, Illinois State University (ISU) and Illinois Wesleyan, with a total student population of 22,897. The corridor is also home to BroMenn Medical Center and numerous retail and commercial businesses. Connect Transit bus service serves the corridor that is within a half mile of Constitution Trail (a multi-use trail running parallel to US 51 Business from Bloomington and Normal with a number of east-west branches). Adding bike accommodations will assist in combining transit with bicycling the first mile and last mile of user trips. It would create a pathway to jobs and economic opportunities especially for lower income community members who depend on public transportation. And it would help convince the many people we already see riding dangerously on the sidewalk against the flow of traffic to instead ride on the street.

The corridor has undergone mixed use development in the ISU campus area which has increased the need for bicycle and pedestrian accommodations; thousands of pedestrians cross Main Street many times a day, making its outdated design as an urban highway especially unsafe. Connectivity between ISU’s campus and downtown Bloomington would improve accessibility and safety though upgrades that meet PROWAG policy. Making active transportation a desired option also contributes to the health of the area.

Improvement of this corridor is part of an ambitious effort that will have a profound effect on the future viability of the Bloomington and Normal area. Consistent with the goals of the TIGER program, this project will provide safe, reliable, and affordable connections to employment, education, healthcare, and other essential services.

Sincerely,

Mike McCurdy and Michael Gorman
Co-chairs, Bike BloNo Public Policy & Infrastructure
PO Box 722
Normal, IL 61761

Walk-In/Bike-Out Sees Strong Community Support

Bike BloNo is joining with the Friends of the Constitution Trail to make a financial contribution to Walk-In/Bike Out. This will be the third straight year of multiple annual donations to WIBO from Bike BloNo.  At a regular Bike BloNo meeting on Wednesday, March 16 at 7 PM the Friends of the Trail and Bike BloNo will each present checks for $500. Mayor Tari Renner, Aldermen Amelia Buragas and Karen Schmidt, and Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts Director Tina Salamone will also attend.

The check presentation will take place at the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts’ Creativity Center. The BCPA is providing bike repair and distribution space after other city-donated space was needed for other purposes.

The $1,000 donation will be used to purchase consumable materials such as brake pads, chains, tires, and other common bike parts. Walk-In/Bike-Out is an annual free bike giveaway event organized by Rick Heiser, and is one of the many community involvements efforts of the West Bloomington Revitalization Project. From February to April, volunteers repair abandoned or confiscated bikes to get them in good working order. The free bikes are then given away on the third Saturday of April to anyone who needs one.

The effort is an attempt to connect people who may not own a vehicle to affordable transportation. A bicycle can get people to and from work and/or school, connect to bus stops, or any door-to-door trip.

Bike BloNo is also partnering with an anonymous donor to purchase bike lights, ensuring every adult bike will have a front and rear bike light. The cost of the lights will amount to an additional $1,200 donation to WIBO.

Recipient numbers have grown year after year, along with the need for more volunteers, space, and parts. Over 800 bikes have been given away in WIBO’s five-year run. The group is now preparing for the 2016 giveaway on Saturday, April 23. Volunteers with or without basic bike maintenance experience are needed for this effort.

The March 16th Bike BloNo Meeting will also feature Jim Freeman, a partner in Freeman Kevenides Law Firm of Chicago. He’ll talk about legal matters related to being a cyclist in a world of cars: policing, insurance, bike-on-bike crashes, and more.

Spread the word about this one-of-a-kind Bike BloNo meetup through the Facebook event. We hope to see you there!

2015 Annual Report

Collage of bike blono event images from 2015

Events, people, and action in 2015

As prescribed by the Bike BloNo bylaws, its president is to “prepare and deliver an annual report of past organization activities at the annual membership meeting.” What follows is the organization’s annual report for 2015 as prepared by Bike BloNo President Mike McCurdy.

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Bike Movie Night 2016 at Normal Theater

Ghost Bike Memorial Ride, São Paulo, Brazil. Photographer: Flora Dias for WG Film.

Ghost Bike Memorial Ride, São Paulo, Brazil. Photographer: Flora Dias for WG Film.

When: Wednesday, February 17
Time: 7:00 p.m – 9:00 p.m.
Where: Normal Theater, 209 North St. Normal IL 61761

BIKES vs CARS depicts a global crisis that we all deep down know we need to talk about: climate, earth’s resources, cities where the entire surface is consumed by the car. An ever-growing, dirty, noisy traffic chaos. The bike is a great tool for change, but the powerful interests who gain from the private car invest billions each year on lobbying and advertising to protect their business. In the film we meet activists and thinkers who are fighting for better cities, who refuse to stop riding despite the increasing number killed in traffic.
For the fifth annual winter bike movie brought to you by the Town of Normal, the Normal Theater, Bike BloNo and the Bloomington-Normal Marriott, we’ll be showing BIKES vs CARS!

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Bicycle Crash Data Report

BLOOMINGTON, IL – November 10, 2015 – Bike crash data can teach people a lot about how to stay safe.

After this summer’s incident in which an aggressive driver intimidated a group of people on their bikes on a rural road outside of Hudson – ultimately sending one to the hospital – Bike BloNo partnered with Data Scientist Mike Bernico and built a coalition of stakeholders to answer important questions, like “where are the most dangerous places for people on bikes in our community?” and “what are the best ways to stay safe?”

The first step in answering these questions was gathering police reports. The City of Bloomington, the Town of Normal, and the McLean County Sheriff each provided 18 months’ worth of reports on crashes involving a bike and a car. Bernico distilled the data from those reports and published the results at http://bikeblono.org/crashdata/

“An important finding for our community is that riding a bike on the sidewalk is one of the most dangerous things people do,” says Bike BloNo board member Michael Gorman. “It turns out that, while it is probably safer for children to stay off the road, as an adult, the safest thing you can do is to ride with traffic – behaving like a car and following all the same rules of the road that you would if you were behind the wheel.”

“Open and available access to public data is key to understanding and improving this and other civic challenges,” says Bernico.  “Open Data, Math, and Statistics are tools we can use to understand the world around us and hopefully make it better.  That’s what a Data Scientist does, and I’m happy to have the opportunity to bring that idea to the public domain.”

Bike BloNo has partnered with other local groups to compile and publicize this data on an ongoing basis. Partners include the Friends of the Constitution Trail, the McLean County Wheelers, and the Bloomington Cycle-Coffee Hound Race Team.

Bike BloNo is an advocacy group promoting the bicycle for everyday transportation in Bloomington-Normal. The Friends of the Constitution Trail works for expansion and beautification of the trail. The McLean County Wheelers is a club of cycling enthusiasts in Central Illinois. The Bloomington Cycle-Coffee Hound Racing Team is a team of riders who live, love, and want to grow cycling in the Bloomington-Normal area.

Monthly Meetup – Sept 16, 2015

Vitesse CycleGot a good idea for a making BloNo more bike friendly? Want to help out at our next event? Just want to hang out with other bikey faces? Join us at our monthly meetup!

Each month we rotate our meetup location to each of the three bike shops in town, and this month we’ll be hosted by our good friends at Vitesse Cycle Shop. Here’s a loose agenda, more to come later:

  • Normal and Bloomington bike improvement updates.
  • Upcoming events.
  • Bike clinic from Vitesse.
  • Group ride to a bar!

Light the Night 2015

 

Need a light for your bike? Ever wonder how the bike racks in the front of the buses work? Curious if your bike is road-ready? 

Light the NightWe want you to be safe and visible on the road. On September 3, show up to the parking north of Uptown Circle between 5-8pm and receive a free headlight and taillight. All you have to do is bring your bike (without a light of course).

Connect Transit will have a bus there for you to try out the bike racks, just to remove any of those nervous jitters. You can also get a quick safety-check from our awesome bike shops, and talk your dedicated volunteers in Bike BloNo and Friends of the Constitution Trial.

RSVP on Facebook

 

Monthly Meetup – August 19, 2015

Bloomington Cycle and FitnessEver wonder how to fix a flat tire? Got a good idea for a bike lane in town? Wanna just drink some beer with other bikey faces? Join us at our monthly meetup!

Each month we rotate our meetup location to each of the three bike shops in town, and this month we’ll be hosted by our good friends at Bloomington Cycle and Fitness. For those Type A folks here’s an agenda (you know who you are, and we love you):

  • Review the Bloomington Bike Master Plan.
  • Identify fiscal year priorities for city staff.
  • Learn how to patch a flat tire in this month’s bike clinic.
  • Make new friends (mandatory).

Officially RSVP on Facebook.

What’s Next for the Bloomington Bike Master Plan

Bloomington bike lane

Recently installed bike lane in Downtown Bloomington, Illinois

Thank you for your support and help over the past 18 months in developing the Bloomington Bike Master Plan. The plan was approved on an 8-1 vote with the lone dissenting vote cast by Ward 1 Alderman Kevin Lower. In his comments, he stated it’s unsafe for cyclists to share the road with traffic (despite the fact that people on bikes are already on the road with traffic). With the passing of this plan however, bikes and cars will have better accommodations as road improvements move forward throughout the years.

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