Originally Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2013, 10:37 pm
Last Updated: Jan. 17, 2013, 10:38 pm

Bicycle enthusiasts envision Quad-Cities as cycling hub

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By Stephen Elliott, selliott@qconline.com

Area bicycle enthusiasts anticipate a great future for local cyclists.

About 70 cycling enthusiasts joined city leaders from both sides of the river Thursday night to discuss goals and achievements for Quad Cities' bicycling. Those goals include a bike lane on the proposedInterstate 74 bridge and arriving at a downtown passenger rail station in Moline for a ride along the 60-mile Great River Trail.

Ed Barsotti, executive director of the League of Illinois Bicyclists, said the Quad-Cities is ahead of the curve of many communities when it comes to bicycle trails and recreational facilities. Donnie Miller, safety and education director of the Quad Cities Bicycle Club, said the area could become a tourist hub for cyclists.

Plans for the future I-74 bridge include two five-foot lanes in each direction, along with two foot shoulders on each side, making for a 14-foot bike trail on the downstream side of the bridge. A proposedpassenger rail station at 12th Street and Fourth Avenue in Moline also could serve as a starting point for local bicycle routes.

"We'll have everything there (at the station) and look at putting bike lockers, bicycle parking," Mr. Miller said. "You'll have bus and bike and trains there.The hope is to open this all up as a tourist destination for bicyclists."

East Moline city manager Tim Kammler said more awareness is needed forbicycle and pedestrian facilities. He said a long-range plan by the Bi-State Regional Commission stated the lack of such facilities was No. 2 on a list of transportation needs.

"I was amazed to see that," Mr. Kammler said.

Davenport City Planner Zack Peterson, a cycling enthusiast, said there is a divide in his city -- roughly at Kimberly Road.

"Half of our city isn't served by bicycle facilities," he said, referring to north of Kimberly. "It's a line in the sand, a kind of medieval fortress."

There is progress, he noted, including a 27-mile recreation trail linking Davenport, Bettendorf and Riverdale. The goal is to tie that trail to a riverfront trail and the city's new bridge at Credit Island, Mr. Peterson said.

Davenport is growing, largely because of its downtown, he said, and bicycle transportation will be a part of that growth.

Randy Tweet, Rock Island bicycle task force and street maintenance superintendent, said cities are trying to be creative with funding bicycle projects. Rock Island has installed sharrows on some downtown paths, a cost-saving measure that is cheaper than creating separate bicycle lanes.

More work is needed, however, according to local riders. Moline attorney Hector Lareau said he rides his bicycle from Moline to the Rock Island Courthouse, but often finds the bicycle trail covered with ice.

"I'm thrilled to be in a bicycle-friendly community," he said. "But you always want something better."