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Public invited to brainstorm for Mattoon bike plan

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Bike Route Sign 03/28/18

Pictured is the Lincoln Prairie Grass Trail bike route section along Logan Street in Mattoon on Wednesday.

MATTOON -- Community members are invited to help brainstorm ideas for developing a long term Mattoon bike plan during a workshop on April 11.

City officials and Mattoon in Motion community planning effort participants are working together on a city-wide bicycle transportation plan. They plan to kick off this work with the public brainstorming workshop at 6:30 p.m. April 11 at Burgess-Osborne Memorial Auditorium, 1701 Wabash Ave.

Mattoon in Motion Bicycle Committee member Sarah Dowell said community members are invited to bring their ideas for bike routes throughout town to this 90 minute workshop. She said their input will help officials focus route planning efforts and prioritize where improvements are made.

"It will be a hands-on workshop. Literally everyone who attends will be involved," Dowell said. "You will be given markers and highlighters and make lines on maps."

Dowell said the bike plan will aim to meet the needs of bicyclists of all skill levels, including families with children, casual bike riders, cycling enthusiasts, and advanced cyclists.

Workshop participants will brainstorm ideas for new marked bike lanes to help provide safe access to the Mattoon Area Family YMCA and other destinations in town, Dowell said. She added that they also will brainstorm ideas for paths leading to farther points, such as Lake Paradise and Lake Mattoon.

Dowell said new bike paths will be open to use by joggers, hikers, dog walkers, bird watchers and many others than just bicyclists, so community members with interests outside of cycling are invited to take part in the workshop.

"You don't even have to own a bike," Dowell said.

The workshop agenda will consist of an introduction of the bicycle planning effort, description of some types of improvements that may be considered, attendees marking up individual maps with their ideas, small groups prioritizing and reporting suggestions, and next steps on how participants can stay involved and updated.

Dowell said the Lumpkin Family Foundation has provided grant funding for Ride Illinois to assist with the workshop and subsequent related efforts.

Ride Illinois, which is based in Aurora, is nonprofit organization that helps develop bicycle route studies for communities. This organization developed a similar study for Charleston last year. Ride Illinois uses traffic count figures and other data, as well as local input, to recommend key routes for bike plans.

"The bike plan will not be an overnight process, but the workshop is definitely the starting point," Dowell said.

The April 11 workshop is part of the parks and recreation component of the Mattoon in Motion. Those who are unable to attend the workshop but want to submit ideas can contact Bicycle Committee and Mattoon City Council member Rick Hall at rickhall@consolidated.net. More information about the workshop and the community planning effort is available at https://www.facebook.com/MattoonInMotion/.

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