By TESA GLASS firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — MT. VERNON — City officials provided input and comments on a Bike Transportation Plan released Wednesday by Gov. Pat Quinn.
“A group of us went to a workshop on the Illinois Bike plan a few months ago,” said City Tourism Director Bonnie Jerdon. “It was a regional meeting held in Carbondale. We provided input and comments on the plan based on the needs of Mt. Vernon.”
Mt. Vernon has an extensive trails plan, with four trails completed and one under construction with more planned. The Bike Transportation Plan was announced Wednesday by Quinn and Illinois Secretary of Transportation Ann L. Schneider.
The plan is the first statewide bicycle plan in state history and is designed to provide the Illinois Department of Transportation with policies, best practices and strategic direction for “implementing a sustainable, multi-modal transportation system across Illinois,” according to information from the state.
“The Illinois Bike Transportation Plan will help develop a safer and more efficient transportation system for everyone who rides a bike in our state,” Quinn said. “In Illinois we pride ourselves on our 21st century transportation system, and this plan will guide our future work to expand access to this safe, cost-effective and green form of transportation.”
According to information from Quinn’s office, the plan has more than 200 recommendations and action items to enhance IDOT’s ability to provide safe and cost-effective accommodations for cyclists.
“The comprehensive recommendations address a variety of topics including facility design and maintenance, network gaps, grant funding programs, safety education and enforcement, and internal governance and coordination. In addition, the plan includes performance measures designed to evaluate progress toward implementation.”
Jerdon said the city during the past several years has adopted a federal plan for trails and transportation planning called “Complete Streets.”
“Complete Streets includes vehicle, pedestrian and bicyclists,” Jerdon explained. “You may see that each time there is a major improvement on streets or sidewalks in Mt. Vernon, there is pedestrian and bicycle traffic accommodated. Complete Streets are a part of the state plan, as it is already a requirement for federal grants.”
Jerdon said the plan may be used in determining grant funding through the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program and other state grant programs. Some of the trails completed by the city have used grant funds from the ITEP program.
“Mt. Vernon has a comprehensive plan for trails and sidewalks,” Jerdon said. “That plan and already using federal guidelines, I believe, gives us leverage when looking for grant money for projects.”
In developing the state plan, IDOT information states it used an “extensive, multi-faceted outreach effort” of which Mt. Vernon participated. About 4,000 individuals, 60 local agencies, 50 non-profits and 11 educational institutions provided input.
“The Illinois Bike Transportation Plan is framed around five key principles: Safety, connectivity, access, choice and collaboration,” Schneider said. “These principles helped guide the development of the plan and will be instrumental to implementation. The plan will ensure that Illinois remains a model of excellence in sustainable transportation.”
The complete plan and technical documents are available at www.IllinoisBikePlan.com.