Top of the Morning, April 15, 2014

Top of the Morning, April 15, 2014

The weather could be better. But the setting is perfect for today's third Illinois Bike Summit at I Hotel.

Champaign, Urbana and the University of Illinois, after all, have been deemed bicycle-friendly places by national folks in the know.

How that'd happen?

"Geographically C-U is compact, flat and laid out on a grid mostly," said Jeff Yockey, president of Champaign County Bikes and Summit organizer. "Socially, the bicycle community is large, welcoming and active. In terms of bike infrastructure like bike lanes, sharrows and bike parking, our city planners and engineers are keeping C-U up with the best traffic science and practices. Finally, bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly cities are highly correlated with high quality of life rankings and our business leaders and elected officials are moving C-U in that direction at a rapid rate."

Here's more from Yockey, who is expecting a Summit crowd of about 300.

How can C-U get more friendly?

We are working on connectivity issues now. Making sure there is a safe and sound way to travel from any point A to any point B, all across C-U. We have troublesome intersections to find solutions for and of course we need adequate and secure bike parking at all destinations — like grocery stores, schools, churches, medical centers and parks. The systematic education of all bicyclists and motorists is a key element as well.

When you were growing up, how dangerous was it riding around town?

I was a paper boy in my small hometown of Shelbyville. Just on my paper route alone I put 15,000 miles on my bike over 10 years. Riding a bike was safe because traffic volume was low and motorists were careful around kids on bikes.

What's the hot topic at this year's Summit?

The Kickapoo Rail Trail for one. The KRT was just awarded $ 1.8 million for construction of the first phase of the 24.5-mile trail. Having the Kickapoo Rail Trail in our community is going to be awesome. IDOT's first-ever Illinois State Bike Transportation Plan will be a close second topic for discussion.

Best cycling movie ever made is

"Breaking Away" may be the best B movie of all time. It was released just as I started bike touring in the summers during my college years.