Bike lane plan sparks clash over on-street parking

Bike lane plan sparks clash over on-street parking

CHAMPAIGN — Residents near a portion of South State Street are petitioning the city to save 10 on-street parking spaces in lieu of extending bike lanes south to Fox Drive.

The debate is a classic clash between parking and bicycling, one which is becoming more frequent as Champaign and Urbana build out their bicycle infrastructure.

The Champaign city council this week decided to push forward with the project, which is scheduled to be completed within the next couple months. The striping will extend State Street bike lanes from where they end now at Hessel Boulevard south to Fox Drive.

The Urbana City Council experienced a similar debate this spring when officials decided to swap parking for a bike lane on Kinch Street between Washington Street and Florida Avenue.

The State Street project in Champaign will add a half-mile of bike lanes to the city's existing six miles on State, Randolph, John and First Street. Officials will add another half-mile this month when they stripe bike lanes on John Street between Willis Avenue and Kenwood Drive.

That number will continue to grow as the city dedicates an average $75,000 annually to bolstering its bicycle infrastructure, which includes features like lanes, "sharrows," and street signs.

Neighborhood residents, however, are asking the city to consider using "sharrows" instead of bicycle lanes between Hessel Boulevard and Buena Vista Drive. "Sharrows," which are road markings indicating that bikes and vehicles are to share the lane, require less road space than separate bike lanes.

City officials say the State Street bike lanes are a key route as the city continues to build its bicycle transportation network. As proposed, the striping project would eliminate about 10 on-street parking spaces on the east side of State Street but maintain about 24 parking spaces on the west side.

"The parking issue is primarily when there are visitors in the area, and we have a fairly large family," said Al Rehberg, who lives at 1306 S. State St. "They come home to visit. And the elimination of parking on State Street will wipe out any overnight, two-, three-day parking while our family is visiting us."

Parking in that area has been a problem for a while, according to city documents. During daytime hours, some University of Illinois employees tend to use free on-street parking rather than buying passes for university-owned parking lots.

In 1997, the city posted signs prohibiting parking on Buena Vista Drive between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. Recently, those signs were changed to allow 3-hour parking between those hours to accommodate daytime visitors. City officials believe that will relieve some of the area's parking issues.

Marie Rehberg said the Buena Vista parking does not fully address the issue, especially for people with limited mobility.

"We do have an older community, but we also have a lot of people that are in the apartments across the street," she said. "There are eight of them. There's a lot of coming and going."

City officials say visibility at the intersection of Buena Vista Drive and State Street has long been a concern — and has been responsible for a number of accidents — and bike lanes as opposed to sharrows are the only way to ensure everyone's safety.

"It's hard to balance the wants and needs of people whose home is there with the wants and needs of the other 75,000 people in the community who want to get from point A to point B and along the way have to drive by your home and want to do it in a safe way," city council member Tom Bruno said.

The council unanimously voted to continue the project on Tuesday night.

"We all must share these roads," Bruno said. "They belong to the community."

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tolonotom wrote on August 08, 2013 at 8:08 am

I don't mind sharing a road, but when you reduce a 4-lane road down to two lanes you really mess things up for the car drivers. Washington Street in Urbana was reduced to two lanes of traffic and the city didn't even put in a center turn lane, so now when someone wants to make a left turn everyone behind them has to stop.

I also wouldn't mind sharing so much if the bike riders would also follow the Rules of the Road. I was on Washington street this morning and watched as a bike rider blew through the intersection with Leirman Road and didn't even slow down.


Lostinspace wrote on August 08, 2013 at 9:08 am

Ditto and ditto. Especially exasperating are the cyclists who block traffic by riding in the middle of a traffic lane, ignoring a bike path.

tzr wrote on August 08, 2013 at 2:08 pm

A major problem with the bike paths through Champaign-Urbana is that the cities don't remove glass, sticks and debris from them and don't patch the potholes that appear.

Also, seams in the pavement create a real risk for crashes.

That's why you see cyclists riding outside of the lanes –– it's safer.

Bulldogmojo wrote on August 08, 2013 at 10:08 am

I think they have overestimated how many people use bikes off campus. The lane on Randolph at least that I have seen, gives crackdealers a safe handoff zone to give approaching cars bags of drugs, Thanks Champaign city council !

pattsi wrote on August 08, 2013 at 10:08 am

Actually, one now ought to do an analysis related to the proportion of dedicated street surfaces for bicycle use--whether these are primary auto routes, actual use, and the redution of street driving and parking surface related to the number of cars. And so far there is total disregard related to parkng and any citizens who have mobility issues. Last is I have previously mentioned, there is no budget line to maintai all of these routes. Right now neither city can maintain the streets and sidewalks, let alone place sidewalks where there are none. Most recent bike lanes on John St. are worn off or peeled off within 12 months. The disproportionality recently toward bike lanes with major disregard for the needs of the total population is not "best practice" planning.

Steve Nesbitt wrote on August 08, 2013 at 1:08 pm

I am very supportive of the city council's actions in improving bicycle access in our community.  As an avid bicyclist that lives in south Champaign and commutes through that area, as well as rides often with my young children through that area to the library, campus, and downtown, the proposed bike lane connection will greatly improve accessibility and safety going north-south in that area.  The "shared lane" will not work there as it does on John St. for example as State St. is too busy.  This will just cause more frustration for drivers and danger for bicyclists on such a busy street - most bicyclists can't go 30 miles per hour.  Unfortunately due to the layout of the streets in that area there isn't a better N-S alternative with safe signaled crossings going across Kirby, Springfield, and Green.

I understand drivers' concern with some bicyclists driving habits as I have been on both sides, however not all bicyclists are bad drivers, just as all car drivers are not good drivers, either (especially the multiple occasions where drivers have cut off, passed too closely, followed, and verbally threatened my family while lawfully riding bicycles here in C-U - where does all of this road rage come from in this town?).  I am sorry that parking will not be as convenient as it is now for some, but it seems like expanding resident only parking (with guest passes) should alleviate the parking demand.

Lostinspace wrote on August 08, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Why not reduce State to one lane, with a full two-way lane for cyclists and make Randolph a two-way street?  Cars can always use Neil.  I drive both regularly, and there is not heavy traffic.

tzr wrote on August 08, 2013 at 2:08 pm

I see this as a good move as a both a driver and a regular bike commuter and cycling enthusiast. State Street is the only real southbound cycling-friendly avenue on that side of town and it only makes good sense to extend the bike lane infrastructure the entire length of the street until it hits Fox Drive.

Automotive traffic is already pretty sparse on State –– most drivers will just get on Neil which is considerably faster with fewer lights. Also for residents, the bike lane may prove an asset as it may discourage through driving, thus making the community safer overall for pedestrians, children and pets.

Most cyclists are law-abiding citizens, just like most drivers are law-abiding citizens. In fact, most cyclists are also drivers. It's folly to use the actions of a small subsect to discourage beneficial community developments.

fbenmlih wrote on August 08, 2013 at 5:08 pm

Let me remind you that roads were there for horses and bicycles before the car was even invented. How did we get to the point where some motorists think they have more rights to the road than the cyclists? Sorry to disappoint you but you do not have more right. Bicyclists have the same rights as motorists on all traveling lanes. Bicyclists have more rights than motorists on bike lanes where no motor vehicle belongs.

For those who don't know the law, here are some from the DMV

-Motorists are required by law to allow at least 3 feet of space between them and a bicyclist when passing. (Make sure you change lanes to pass)

-A bicyclist may proceed, after yielding the right-of-way to oncoming traffic, through a red light that fails to turn green after waiting for at least 120 seconds. (Don’t be surprised if you see to bicyclists going through red lights)

- Also, you will see many signs saying "May use full lane" (For safety reasons, some bikers ride in the middle of the lane to avoid accidents caused by motorists such as right turn hook, door traps (parked cars opening the door without looking) and motorists rolling too much into perpendicular traveling lanes at intersections or when exiting a parking or a driveway. So when you see a biker in the middle of the lane, understand why. He is not trying to annoy you. He just wants to be safe.)

Riding tips for bikers:

-Ride as close to the right edge of the road as practical. Certain conditions allow a bicyclist to move farther to the left if necessary, such as broken glass, drain grates, parked cars, left turns and passing. (So don't be surprised if a biker is riding too far to the left of a lane)

Let me ask you this, do you need to drag 3000 pds of steel to work? I know I don't and that is why I commute to work biking. I know some have to take their kids to school and run errands and it is understandable that you need a motor vehicle. But, if you are just getting yourself to work, you sure don't need a 3000pds 4 seat honker. Why don't you ditch your car and get a bike too? It will save you tons of money, get you and keep you in great shape and get one more car off the road. That way, you can join the bike to work movement and start petitioning for more bike lanes instead of more parking spots. You may say that it's not safe to bike as the reason you don't do it; but it is because YOU are still driving that it is not safe.

Mastadon-27 wrote on August 08, 2013 at 5:08 pm

The parking on State between Hessel and Kirby is easily solved.  The bicycle lane goes outside of the on-street parking spaces, just like it is on the west side of State north of Hessel to Bradley.  State south of Kirby to Fox is a two-lane street with no on-street parking.  The narrowness of State south of Kirby to Fox increases the chance of bicyclists being involved in an accident with an automobile weighing many hundred of pounds more than their combined weight, and traveling much faster than a bicyclist is able to.  I wouldn't ride a bicycle on that narrow of a street with or without a bicycle lane.  It's just common sense not to put yourself in that situation. 

Remember, the rules for bicyclists and cars require both to give-way to each other.  I have had experiences where bicyclists have blocked traffic behind me for several automobiles because they would not ride single file.  That was on a rural street approaching an overpass.  I could wait to pass, as I was in no rush to get where I was going.  However, several automobiles behind me were willing to chance a pass into the oncoming traffic lane.  When it comes to avoiding a collision with either a bicyclist or an automobile, I doubt many drivers would hesitate to pull back into the lane being blocked by a bicyclist, given the weight differential.  Think about what is around you before behaving in a certain manner.  It may save your life.

The bicyclists I have seen running red lights in town haven't been stopped for 2 seconds let alone 120 seconds (2 minutes).

fbenmlih wrote on August 08, 2013 at 6:08 pm

Everyone needs to be accountable. There are some bikers that don't follow the rules such as stopping at stop signs, waiting at least 2 minutes before attempting to go through a red light, not riding in a single file, not having functional lighting or not using proper hand signaling when turning or changing lanes. Those riders make the rest look bad and should be ticketed just like motorists. On the same note, motorists that just want to rebel by passing too closely, not changing lanes when passing, not being considerate of bikers on a bridge to save a few seconds should be ticketed too. Passing a bridge on a bike is the hardset because it is usually the steapest climb of the trip. The answer is not to give up riding because there are motorists that can't wait 2 seconds. As a biker, the answer is to take the whole lane to make yourself as pronouced and visible as possible and to make it clear that bikes are part of traffic and are here to stay. Ironically, whenever I stay as much to the right of the lane as possible, motorists try to squeeze by without changing lanes. When I ride in the middle of the lane, every motorist changes lane to pass. For me, it's a no brainer.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on August 08, 2013 at 5:08 pm
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I still prefer the old method of cycling on side streets.


Sure, they have stop signs every block, but that's why I ignore them. I'm traveling at 7-12 mph, so I'm still moving more slowly than most of the cars that roll through.

fbenmlih wrote on August 08, 2013 at 6:08 pm

I completely aggree with you! State st is a side street, Neil and prospect are the main ones. But motorists try to find shortcuts and avoid traffic, so they too start using side streets. Bike lanes are the safest way on both main and side streets.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on August 09, 2013 at 8:08 pm
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State Street is a busy thoroughfare. It's one of a pair of one-ways. It has traffic lights at intersections with busy streets, and it has the right of way at intersections with smaller streets.


I refer to Prairie, Elm, Lynn, New, etc.


Those are all brick streets, so I cut and meander, and ride on the sidewalk sometimes (if I need to be in that part of town).

il907jt wrote on August 09, 2013 at 7:08 am

It seems that our local pliticians are so interested in making CU seem like a "progressive" community that they are ingoring common sense.  Taking out traffic lanes on busy streets makes the overall traffic situation less safe.  it causes confusion and indecision among drivers and puts them- as well as bikers and pedestrians- at greater risk of an accident.  Driving around CU on a daily basis you will see this, especially in the areas where traffic lanes have been reduced.  Luckily, you rarely see bikers using these lanes, or things might be worse.

Eliminating parking for these bike lanes also hurts local businesses by making them less accessible to potential customers, especially by individuals who may be disabled. 

I hear politicians like Tom Bruno say things like "We all must share these roads."  However, I don't see how spending money to create confusion, chaos, and inconvenience for the vast majority of the population promotes any type of sharing.  It's simply promoting their political view of how they want the city to look over the most common sense use of resources.

fbenmlih wrote on August 09, 2013 at 11:08 am

common sense is that you get on a bike too and leave your car for long out of town travel. Unless you are disabled.

LocalTownie wrote on August 09, 2013 at 1:08 pm

Can someone report on the percentage of cyclists versus the percentage of autos in town?  Because I'd really be curious to know how the city thinks it's more beneficial to give up expensive pavement for the use of a very small percentage of users. I think the entire reason roads are four lanes is because of need. Automobile need. I'd really rather my tax dollars not be wasted on something for a tiny group of people.

While we're at it, there are plenty of roads that need to be repaired in this town (umm, Mattis Avenue is a JOKE), can we worry about THAT please? That is something I would gladly pay for. Striping for more bike lanes, not so much.

tzr wrote on August 09, 2013 at 1:08 pm

Go down toward campustown or downtown Champaign or Urbana and count the number of cyclists that are riding to and from work or for fun. Believe it or not, you'll see a large number.

Most cyclists are automobile owners, too, and pay taxes and fees to own automobiles.

Changing road striping to add a bike lane is a pretty small sum, all things considered, with the ancillary benefits of making a neighborhood more friendly for pedestrians, children, and pets.

Danno wrote on August 11, 2013 at 12:08 pm

What do pets have to do with this? There are leash laws. Do you allow your pets to play in the street...tzr?

LocalTownie wrote on August 12, 2013 at 1:08 pm

Right - what DO pets have to do with it? Or pedestrians for that matter? Aren't bike lanes for bikes?  Children on bikes sure, but children shouldn't be in the road either. And I don't think we were discussing bike lanes in quiet neighborhoods any way, but busy thoroughfares.

Danno wrote on August 11, 2013 at 11:08 am

An avg. passenger vehicle is about 1,900% more mass than an avg. bicycle+rider. Add momentum, likely road rage, broken pavement/rocks/glass and, the bicyclist always ends up seriously injured/dead. Try to avoid arterial roads by taking side streets (winter is really difficult at times) and, use sidewalks (giving right of way to pedestrians). Assume the automobile driver does not see you. Stay out of their way.

tzr wrote on August 12, 2013 at 2:08 pm

No, of course bike lanes aren't for pedestrians for pets.

The point I was making was that bike lanes are usually part of holistic campaigns to make streets safer for all members of the community. Sometimes it goes by the term "road diet." The end result of the process of adding bike lanes or other infrastructure is that drivers slow, which means that the area is safer for walkers, runners, etc.



My common sense is tingling. wrote on August 14, 2013 at 10:08 am
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Here's my opinion on the bike paths and lanes throughout the Champaign-Urbana area: can we get some consistency and maintenance?

I understand that all roads in the area are not the same (street parking, heavy or light traffic flow, turn lanes, stop lights) but I'm kind of sick of the variety of ways bikes are expected to adhere to marked roads. In some places it's a road sign that simply says "Bikes May Use Full Lane" while in other places it's an entire marked lane for bikes only, while in other places it's a marked bike path parallel to the sidewalk (mostly in campus), and my personal favorite, roads that just have a picture of a bike plastered on it.

The second part is making sure this circus of "bike friendly" roads is actually rideable. There are places in town (campus especially) that I would only feel comfortable taking my 29er over. The bike paths are worse than the roads. 

As for State Street, as I don't frequent it, I'm not sure what the best call is. But I do think that pulling a Washington Street plan like in Urbana is a giant mistake. From a cyclist point of view, Washington is nice. Nice wide lanes (that 2 bikes could fit in), nice paved road. From a driver's point of view, it's a giant waste. Turn lanes are now messed up. Half of the road has been made for bike use only, and honestly, bikes don't need that much space. As someone who bikes more than they drive, I don't need half of an easily 2 lane road.

It'd be nice if they took the crayon away from the child that's doing the road planning around here.

Lance Dixon wrote on August 15, 2013 at 1:08 am

The point of bike lanes is to make it safer for bikers, which in turn encourages more people to leave the car at home. Personally, I've just recently felt safe enough to ride my bike to work because of all the new bike lanes and signage. It's enjoyable, environmentally friendly, healthy, and saves me gas money. More people should try it (if its feasible). So, while there may be few riders on State St. today, hopefully the new lane will attract more riders and justify taking the parking spots away. 

Eric wrote on August 24, 2013 at 6:08 pm

The fact is the bike lane never saved one person from getting hit by a car. And there is nothing in that wonderful pdf link about bike lanes. I drive my bike 95 percent of the time . average less then  200 miles last year in my car. The fact is the lines are just feel good. I don't feel good about paying to maintain a line that  will not stop one bicycle death From a 2 ton vehicle.

I ride every night doing my deliveries and all I see are people that have no clue about bicycle safety.

 Fact is we need a no vehicle area in the down towns. Like Portland did. this allowed 10 times more room for truck deliveries. and handicap access.
 You  think you can put a solid white line and think cars will not come in to that lane. so please show me where IDOT has made bike lanes part of the road system if it is there then good. but I really don't see it may be wrong.
   The three foot law is also another feel good law goes with the no cell phone law. Was the phone on? Prove it. Was he closer than three feet? Prove it.  
    That's right we all feel better in a bicycle lane. well I don't.
    The reason why bicycle passing on the blind side of a motor vehicle is absolutely nuts. (passing side and the suicide)
    Bad enough the Police never enforce ( oh a few bike cops on Green street on a lighted road  giving out tickets  what a joke go 2 blocks north better yet  Police to actually take part of being a civil servant and enforce through knowledge . I guess tickets raise them revenues )  while I ride every night trying to do my best lights and Following the rules of the road just like I did when I drove over the road over 2 million miles and was a trainer. 2 million miles of no preventable accidents. Trust me I can see a bigger picture than most on safety.
   I have proved over and over you can hide a 70 foot semi behind a telephone pole. the only thing that makes our roads safe is education and more education. Through education you finally will see the bigger picture. now what Senator's brother owns the paint factory or distribution center or road crew.
  You all argue the money is from the alternative transportation grants well I want to see alternative lanes not bike lanes. and I want to see what 50 ft of a lane cost to maintain for 10 years. Don't raise my taxes to make your self feel good.
  Learn to share the road. And enforce what we got.