Last month, we emailed a survey to all of our members, asking “What are your priorities for Ride Illinois’ program work?” More than 200 members participated, each allocating 100 priority points among six advocacy categories. More than 31% of all points were assigned to bike-friendly road designs, making it the top priority.
“Bike-friendly road design” is more than just bike lanes (although, those definitely can make roads friendlier to cyclists). The category also includes community bike network plans, Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) assistance, IDOT and local agency design policies and providing detailed design input for upcoming road projects (such as our recently completing providing input on projects for all nine IDOT districts) are all ways to have more bike-friendly roads. Additionally, included in this category is our technical training for engineers and planners, such as the presentations we have recently provided for Kane and McHenry counties.
“More trails” landed in the second place spot, with more than 22% of assigned points. The category includes assisting national groups to protect and expand federal funding; monitoring state administration of federal funds; seeking state funding; advising local agencies on grant strategies and assisting with handling opposition and working with mountain biking organizations on access issues.
Ranking third was “educating drivers,” with nearly 16%. Obviously, our BikeSafetyQuiz.com is one way that we educate both drivers and cyclists. This category includes proliferating BSQ as a Drivers’ Ed lesson and for truck driver training; requesting and funding 3-Foot passing law signs; conducting paid media public education and improving the Rules of the Road publication and driver exam test questions.
“Legal issues” was ranked fourth in the survey, at nearly 12%. The legal issues category included state traffic law updates, training of police, legal assistance referrals for crash victims, advocacy of proper prosecution in individual cases and state law and cyclist harassment reporting methods.
Rounding out the list was “educating cyclists” (at 10%) and “encouragement” (at 9%). The educating cyclists category included more child education through BSQ or other resources in schools and other organizations, such as scouts. Also, in this category was paid media public education, partnerships with colleges and other groups such as bike share programs and municipal outreach, and in-person classes.space
The encouragement category included bike map, guides and route development as well as our Illinois Bike Summit, bike week or Bike to School event partnerships, promotion of organized rides as well as other bike tourism. We realize that most of our members are already educated cyclists and do not likely need encouragement to ride, which could affect the priority given.
The results are similar to a membership survey we conducted in 2008. Bike-friendly roads again snatched the top spot, followed by more funding for trails; motorist education; child bike education; enforcement/justice issues; and, adult bike education.
For the 2019 survey, members also had the opportunity to elaborate or give their own suggestions. Responses, as you can imagine, varied widely. More connectivity of trails, maintenance of existing trails, distracted driving, more bike lanes, suggestions for our next membership survey and more were all provided. We appreciate the time that members took to complete the survey and reply thoughtful answers. The results were discussed at our recent board meeting and will influence upcoming work and projects.
A few things are certain – we, and our members, love to ride bikes and are for making it safer and easier for more people to ride bikes in Illinois.