URBANA — Although Urbana has some of the best bicycle infrastructure in the area, one audience member at Monday’s city council meeting said it remains fragmented.
Jason Rock, who runs the Champaign Urbana Safe Streets Facebook page, told aldermen that the city is effectively cut into four bike-accessible sections, but travel between those areas is difficult because of high-stress streets like University and Lincoln avenues.
Rock opened his comments by showing aldermen videos of three young people biking down Country Club Road as cars passed by them at speed.
“Frankly, people go too fast on this road,” Rock said. “The kids did everything right. They were on the right side of the road, they tried to avoid the road and didn’t stay long on it. The problem is that there is effectively no bike infrastructure here.”
What Rock called “high-stress streets,” borrowed from a study on bike infrastructure in Toronto, “create islands limiting the areas that people can bike to.”
It’s often safe to bike within the cut-off sections of town, Rock said, but the city could do more to help close the gaps.
Alderman Bill Brown said although the city doesn’t maintain Country Club Road, “there’s nothing that says we can’t work with other agencies to get stuff done.”
“We need to do a better job of working with the township and the county when necessary to make those connections because we are a fragmented city,” Brown said. “In the big corridors like University, there are only one or two spots I go to to cross north safely.”
In other business, Mayor Diane Marlin appointed police Lt. Richard Surles as deputy chief Monday.
Police Chief Bryant Seraphin said he’s happy to have Surles as his deputy.
“I don’t think anyone knows the operation of this organization from top to bottom and left to right as well as he does,” Seraphin said. “I think he will use all the knowledge he has gained to streamline things. Maybe that means pushing in one area and retracting in another and putting our efforts in another place.”
One of the areas that Seraphin said his department needs to work on is related to crimes that use contemporary technology.
“That’s constantly an area we need and strive to get better at,” Seraphin said. “There’s always somebody with another tool or piece of software or something else that we have to deal with. So I know that’s something he’ll be working on.”