Bikes mean business. In Peoria, this means a chance to connect our beautiful natural environment with the local tourism economy. Our region has a rich history of bicycling dating back to the late 1800s. From world-renowned races to leisurely excursions, the adventurous terrain and scenic vistas make for quite an experience.
Fast forward to today where cities across the world have taken a page out of Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Portland and San Francisco’s playbooks by making their built environments more bike-friendly. What is seen as a risk or novelty by outsiders is reaping major benefits to health, wealth and the local business climate.
At first, upgrades such as bike lanes, signage and bike racks serve as an indicator that bikes belong. After an adequate infrastructure has been created, the people follow… and not just the locals. So, how do we make Peoria a bike-friendly tourist town?
- Infrastructure—link trails to separated bike lanes and include tailored way-finding signage.
- Destinations—connect parks, libraries, museums, theaters and local businesses.
- Businesses—offer special discounts to cyclists, rental bike options and bike parking.
True, this has been described as an “If you build it, they will bike” type of scenario, but intuitively, it makes a lot of sense. Would you be able to drive somewhere if there were no roads? What if there were no parking spaces? Can you get to your destination safely without the road signs, lights and markers guiding the way? It seems obvious the investment is necessary and pays large dividends.
By making our streets safer and more accessible for cyclists, it’s easier for both residents and tourists to navigate Peoria without having to own or rent a car. They can take in an incredible park system, visit one of our many libraries, make their way to a café, or head home after a day at work. With less money spent on car payments, insurance and maintenance, more discretionary income could be spent enjoying the various things that make Peoria so unique.
Peoria can be great for mountain biking, country rides or urban exploration. With a few improvements, we could be a top-tier cycling city everybody wants to visit! iBi
Erik Reader is president of Bike Peoria, a 501c3 that seeks to empower Peoria to travel by bicycle. Learn more at bikepeoria.org.