Illinois releases its first comprehensive statewide bicycle plan

By Chris McCahill

In April, the Illinois DOT released its first statewide bike plan, marking an important milestone both in ramping up its comprehensive planning efforts and in becoming a more multimodal transportation agency. The bike plan was released as a supplemental chapter to the state’s long-range plan. Both documents provide guidance for the agency in achieving its newly adopted strategic vision, outlined in Transforming Transportation for Tomorrow—a document unveiled by Secretary Ann Schneider in 2012. That vision calls for “all modes [to] be integrated, coordinated, planned, and built with the idea that present and future travel options are user focused, economically supportive, ecologically sensitive, and information centric.”

The bike plan was a major undertaking led by a steering committee and involving consultants from Alta Planning + Design along with outreach specialists. Over a period of 16 months, IDOT sought and incorporated input from 29 Advisory Group Member Organizations and other local agencies, 19 public meetings, and more than 4,000 public survey responses. That input helped the agency focus the plan on key stakeholder issues, such as local network connections, bicycle facility design, and safety, in addition to building a statewide bicycle network map.

As a policy document, the plan offers 29 specific recommendations and a matrix of action items. The recommendations fall under four categories—planning and policies, design and maintenance, funding, and education—and cover a broad range of agency functions. The recommendations include updating design standards and processes, improving data collection and tracking, integrating land use considerations into the planning process, coordinating better with local agencies, and dedicating funding for active transportation modes and complete streets. The plan also includes a total of 26 performance measures, grouped by category, to guide decision-making and track progress toward achieving the desired outcomes.

Chris McCahill is a Senior Associate at SSTI.