bikelane2SPRINGFIELD — As a Chicagoan, State Senator Natalie Toro frequently bikes to and from work, home and businesses in the community. From these two wheels, she has noticed a glaring need for transportation plans to prioritize the safety of cyclists and introduced legislation to better describe safety features of existing bike paths and ensure cyclists are prioritized in future transportation plans.  

“It can be jarring to follow a designated bike lane and then feel the rush of cars driving past you. Some lanes are shared with traffic or are not as separated as they appeared from routing services,” said Toro (D-Chicago). “My legislation will establish clear classes of bike lanes to avoid confusion for cyclists choosing routes they feel comfortable with.”

Senate Bill 3202 would allow cities and counties to create bicycle transportation plans. These plans may include estimating the number of cyclists coming through the area, allowing planners and developers to use a data-informed approach when determining the number of bike lanes needed and potential new routes. Additionally, Toro’s bill would create four different classifications of bikeways — exclusive, shared, semi-exclusive or completely separate from motorists and pedestrians. Local governments will be required to include maps of the existing bikeways and their classifications in the transportation plans, allowing cyclists to make informed decisions on the routes they take.

Currently, there are only two classifications of bikeways — shared facilities with both vehicles and bicycles operating on the through lanes, and pathways on a street right-of-way. This means bikers do not have all the information on how separate the lanes are from traffic, which may influence their preferred route.

“Like many Chicagoans, I love to bike through the city. It is nice to feel the fresh air, get exercise and be more environmentally conscious. With so many benefits, we should encourage biking even more by making sure our cyclists are safer,” said Toro. “Establishing different classes of bike lanes and setting up requirements for local governments to include bike transportation plans will help keep bikers out of harm’s way.”

Senate Bill 3202 could be heard in the Senate Transportation committee as early as next week.