What’s big, yellow, and wants you to share the road? If you’ve seen the C-U Mass Transit District’s new Share the Road bus, it’s no mystery. The bus, which travels on various routes throughout the area depending on the day, made its debut a few weeks ago.
The name of the bus comes from the “new Illinois law”:http://chicagobikelaw.blogspot.com/2007/09/recent-changes-in-illinois-law.html, which took effect on January 1, 2008, requiring motorists to allow a minimum of 3 feet clearance when passing a bicycle. Rick Furr, publicist for “Champaign County Bikes”:http://www.champaigncountybikes.org/ (CCB), a local bicycle advocacy organization, sent out a press release when the bus debuted. This press release explained the “Share the Road” concept: “Bicycles are considered vehicles by the Illinois Vehicle Code and have the same rights and responsibilities as cars and need to follow the same rules. Both benefit when everyone follows the rules of the road.”
CCB was the leading force behind getting the buswrap in place, but they were by no means alone. “The cities, CUMTD, CCB, UIUC, and local bike shops teamed with Carle Foundation, “The Bike Project”:http://thebikeproject.org/, and C-U Safe Routes To School (SRTS) Project to put the wrap together,” said Cynthia Hoyle, CCB member and a Transportation Planning Consultant for CUMTD. “CUMTD provided significant in-kindcontributions with the bus space, Dean’s produced the wrap, and Joyce Mast, a member of CCB, did the design.”
Mast, an avid cyclist and graphic designer, took great care in her design. “I felt it is important to show that many different kinds of folks ride bikes and need to share the road with cars,” she said. “I included a wheelchair racer from the U of I, a pregnant lady with a child in a child seat and groceries in her basket, a lady on a 3-wheeled recumbent, a male racer, a tourist with panniers on his bike, a woman with a trailer, and a business man commuting to work. All these folks are typical of bike riders in Champaign Urbana.”
Rick Langlois, CCB chairman, puts this project in perspective of their larger goals. “In two short years we have helped both Champaign and Urbana design and move bicycle plans through the city councils,” he remarked. “In another month we will have 30,000 professionally produced, color maps of the cities with bike routes selected and graded by local riders.”
This is “National Bike to Work Week”:http://www.bikeleague.org/programs/bikemonth/, so whether you are riding yourself or occupying the same roads and streets as bicyclists, look out for each other and respect your fellow commuters.
_Stay tuned to Smile Politely. In a few hours, our own Lena Singer will be highlighting the importance of this week._