CHAMPAIGN — The city can now boast its "bicycle friendly community" status after it was one of 17 new cities listed by the League of American Bicyclists on Monday.
Champaign entered the ranking as a bronze-level bicycle-friendly community. Five other Illinois cities are ranked — including Urbana, which achieved its bronze level status in 2010.
Assistant Planning Director Rob Kowalski said he believes it was Champaign's nearly 8 miles of bicycle lanes and its educational efforts that attracted the league's praise.
The League of American Bicyclists has named 259 cities in 47 states as "bicycle friendly communities" since launching the program in 1996. It ranks those cities as bronze, silver, gold, platinum or diamond based on increasingly stringent criteria including physical infrastructure, education, encouragement and ongoing efforts of each city to revise its bicycling plans.
Champaign will have about 10 miles of bike lanes by this time next year, Kowalski said. Projects this summer include extending lanes on State Street from where they currently end to Fox Drive. City officials also plan to stripe bike lanes on segments of John Street and North Market Street — the latter project is part of an overall rehabilitation of that road.