bike route

SPRINGFIELD —There is a growing need for protections for cyclists in State Senator Natalie Toro’s community – especially after a 16-year-old was struck and killed by a car while riding his bike. In response, she passed a measure through the Senate Friday to enhance bike lane safety.

“Our current biking infrastructure often values their safety and lives less than money by refusing to invest in projects to protect cyclists and pedestrians,” said Toro (D-Chicago). “We need to encourage local governments to rethink these priorities and take steps to keep cyclists safe.”

Cyclists frequently use maps of existing bike lanes when planning safe routes to ride. However, under existing law, “bike lanes” have a variety of definitions—including lanes safely blocked off from motor traffic with barriers, but also lanes only separated by drawn lines that may be utilized by parked cars or people pulling over. Without more transparency about the safety features of designated “bike lanes,” cyclists may choose routes without knowing they may be much closer to motorists without barriers to protect them—lanes that report significantly more accidents and injuries to bikers.

To fix the lack of transparency, Toro is leading a measure that would allow local governments to update maps of the existing bikeways with classifications of bike lanes that specify the safety features and degree of separations between motorists in each lane, which would allow cyclists to make informed decisions on the routes they take.

Additionally, 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.

The measure comes after the tragic death of 16-year-old Josh Anleu, who was hit by a driver rolling through a stop sign on the corner of Waveland and Long Avenues on Oct. 4, 2023. He was just one of many people who were killed or injured at the same intersection due to distracted driving, speeding, or simply refusing to look for those who are sharing the road.

“Cycling has many benefits for commuters, including being more cost-effective and better for the environment. However, with our current cyclist infrastructure, commuters may be deterred from biking out of fears for their safety,” said Toro (D-Chicago). “I hope this initiative will motivate local governments to demonstrate their care for cyclists in their community and create bicycle transportation plans so that future cyclists can commute more safely.”

Senate Bill 3202 passed the Senate on Friday. It now goes to the House of Representatives for further discussion.