Guest Post: What Would It Take For You To Bike Peoria?

Our tires are pretty pumped about having our first Guest Post here on our blog. When it comes to creating a movement or a culture change, it’s not always about who speaks the loudest or the most often – it’s about giving people a voice who don’t normally speak out about something they’d like to see done differently. Thank you to Sondra  for taking a minute to put those thoughts down for us to share!

sondra

What Would It Take For You To Bike Peoria?

Guest Post by: Sondra Ruffner, Peoria resident

S.Ruffner

When I was first learning to ride a bike, I would excitedly wait for my Dad to come home from work so I could ask him if he could take my training wheels off. He would usually give in to my request and with a twinkle in his eye he would help me on my bike and give me a little push start. I would eagerly peddle for a minute then suddenly realize I was doing it all on my own. I would hesitate and subsequently fall over.

It’s funny to look back and think about the excitement I felt and the hope I had that I might finally be ready to ride without training wheels. Oh the freedom!

I know individuals that let nothing get in the way of their love of biking. I have seen die-hard bikers on route 40 headed north, and I have friends that have biked across the United States, but most people I know that enjoy biking are casual riders and aren’t training for a race or a cross country biking trip!

People shouldn’t feel limited and guided by these extremes: a) Extremely dedicated despite physical safety b) Extremely desperate to ride in safety so they exclusively use special designated safe trails (paved or otherwise, most often a place they need to drive to).

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I know others that make the extra effort needed for them to ride to work or the supermarket and end up turning it into an integral part of their daily transportation needs. It would be rewarding to be part of a community/society that promoted being regularly out and active, over being primarily in cars rushing from one indoor spot to the next.

Peoria has potential to be very bike-friendly. It has a good grid and network of streets, several parks with trails, as well as plenty of shopping locations and places of interest to become destinations. So why don’t we see more bikes on the road? I think it revolves around the amount of time it takes to bike to a destination and the level of safety one feels while out on the road.

I have seen a few signs dictating designated bike routes and I live close to one that I have not used. I have no desire to use it mainly because it goes into University Avenue (there is no bike lane or cross walk to walk your bike across to the route – I’ve seen lots of car accidents happen there – so I believe they expect you to just dart out into 45mph traffic and hope for the best) and has you use the turn lane which will lead you into a neighborhood that essentially leads to nowhere.

My problem with this particular bike route scenario is that many motorists don’t pay attention to other cars or motorcycles (for various reasons), and they also don’t pay attention to pedestrians (where there are/aren’t sidewalks), so why would they pay attention to me slowly peddling in a regular lane? It is nice that these routes exist, but they shouldn’t be confused as our safer option when they aren’t.

If we want to ride, we should feel free to do so efficiently with motorists while also feeling a certain level of safety. I believe that bike lanes and bike parking would provide a mental and physical awareness to drivers that there are others on the road and reassure bikers that they have a place to ride and a place to lock up and park.

If Peoria had a physical place for me on some of its primary roads, I would most certainly bike more. What would it take for you to bike Peoria?

 

Would you like to contribute to the Bike Peoria blog? All thoughts are welcome and no, you don’t have to be a pro. Please contact us with your thoughts and ideas!

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