SIULAW Prof. Sheila Simon discusses the opening of new bike lanes in the City of Carbondale in this article in the Southern Illinoisan

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SIULAW Prof. Sheila Simon discusses the opening of new bike lanes in the City of Carbondale in this article in the Southern Illinoisan

May 18, 2021, Isaac Smith | Southern Illinoisan

Sheila Simon

CARBONDALE — Celebrating the small things is important, especially when they are part of something bigger.

Carbondale officials did just that Monday as they commemorated the opening of bike lanes along Oakland Avenue.

In 2015, the city made a commitment to incorporate bike lanes and other inclusive transportation features wherever possible. This meant trying to build in these features as roadwork needed completed.

Over the last year, students and other visitors to Carbondale have certainly noticed the immense work being done on Oakland Avenue near Chautauqua Road.

But the scene was quite different Monday with the ribbon cutting officially opening the new, bike-friendly roadway — timed to coincide with National Bike Month this May. 

Where once there were cars lined up at the corner of Oakland and Chautauqua, Monday there were wide-open streets with plenty of space for cyclists to navigate the roadway. Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry and others said every time the city improves the city’s bikeability, it also improves the city’s quality of life and boosts the economy.

Molly Maxwell, a planner with the city and its bike czar, said while six-tenths-of-a-mile of new bike lanes may not seem like the biggest deal, celebrating it has value. When potential visitors or prospective residents see stories and announcements about bike improvements it can really point to the city’s work to improve the lives of its citizens.

Southern Illinois University Law School assistant professor Sheila Simon said she bikes to work every day of the week and was thrilled with the improvements.

She said her regular commute is now “much safer.” She also said it also connects campus to the closest grocery store, the Schnucks market to the north.

Read the complete story here.