Council approves three-lane Lincoln Ave.

By Joe Parrino

The Urbana City Council passed a resolution that commits them to the proposed three-lane restriping of Lincoln Avenue.

The restriping is designed to both improve traffic flow and protect pedestrians. Lincoln’s new look will also support bikeways, but the council is not yet sure how to incorporate them safely.

The restriping, installation of traffic lights at Nevada Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, paving of raised medians, and the addition of crosswalks are scheduled for next summer along with the city’s usual road maintenance.

But before then, the council will have to settle on a bikeway design that minimizes dangers to cyclists. Current plans call for four-foot shoulders on both sides of the Lincoln Avenue corridor.

Gary Cziko, Urbana resident and University professor of educational psychology, said the four-foot shoulders met with his approval. He has been pedaling local streets for 25 years.

“This plan may make Lincoln the safest arterial road for bicycles in Champaign-Urbana,” Cziko told the council.

Alderman Dennis Roberts, D-5, asked Cziko if bus pullouts would pose a substantial threat to cyclists. The pullouts, which are still under consideration, require public busses to cross into the bikeways to reach their stops.

Cziko answered that he and his fellow cyclists already contend with crossing. Though a striped shoulder would not keep motorists completely out of a bicyclist’s way, it would make the two more aware of each other, he said.

Another citizen to address the board didn’t think that the shoulder went far enough to protect bicyclists. Cynthia Hoyle recounted how her husband was knocked unconscious when his bike collided with a bike rack.

Hoyle, a transportation planner for the Champaign Urbana Mass Transit District, mentioned that Chicago bike lane standards require lanes to be at least five-feet wide.

Because the city of Urbana is not widening Lincoln Avenue, any attempt to fatten bike lanes creates issues for motorist traffic.

Alderman Brandon Bowersox, D-4, proposed an amendment to the resolution, which would require public works to investigate the possibility of five-foot lanes. The amendment further stipulated that the city’s attorney Jim Gitz further research liability issues that bikeways may pose. The amendment was also approved.

Other unresolved aspects of the Lincoln Avenue plans include the number of MTD bus stops and how deliveries will be made along the reinvented corridor.