The Bloomington Planning Commission supports bike lanes along Washington Street. Residents testified on both sides of the amendment to the Bloomington bike plan during a public hearing.
Illinois Wesleyan University Professor Trevor McGuire said the bike lanes will promote safer auto driving near cyclists in many cases.
"They either hit or buzz me, either pass me really really close or actually hit me. There are people who pass legally or the people who go way out into the other lane. I like that and that's fine. But, to other drivers, that is erratic behavior," said McGuire.
McGuire also said Washington Street makes the most sense for bike lanes because it is the only street that goes all the way across town.
Opponents such as Diane Benjamin of Ellsworth disagreed.
"Washington Street is not lower traffic. How dare you screw up a major arterial road through town, so that 46 bikes can inconvenience 20,000 cars," said Benjamin.
After more than two hours of heated public testimony, the Bloomington Planning Commission voted 7-3 to recommend adding bike lanes on Washington Street between Lee Street and Saint Joseph Drive.
Bloomington Planning Commissioner James Pearson opposed the plan because of its possible impact on economic development.
"Well, that's the big thing right now to revitalize downtown Bloomington, but to take away 19 parking spaces is not very astute," said Pearson.
Commissioner Megan Headen says the change on Washington Street will stimulate bike use.
"I also think that we will see more bikes. I think this will open up a main road for people that need to get to work or who need to get to the east side of Bloomington that don't have a great way to get there," said Headen.
The city council may conisder the amendment on July 10.
Editors Note: As a matter of disclosure, WGLT Program Director Mike McCurdy is a founding member of the advocacy group Bike BloNo, which worked for the bicycle lanes proposal.
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