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Bloomington City Council To Consider Allowing Bikes On Sidewalks

A bicyclist using a multi-use path in Bloomington.

Photo: Tyler Lake

A bicyclist using a multi-use path in Bloomington.

The Bloomington City Council will hear a proposal Wednesday that aims to make roads and sidewalks safer.

There are a number of proposed changes, including allowing cyclists to ride on sidewalks and skateboarders to ride on roads.

Planning and Transportation Department Engineer Neal Kopper says in addition to improving safety, the proposed changes would bring the municipal code in line with the city’s mission.

“Today we have a code that says it’s illegal to ride a bicycle on a sidewalk, and yet we are potentially building these multi-use paths designed for bicycles and coasters, but they’re legally sidewalks,” Kopper says.

Other proposed changes would require motorists who park on city streets to check before they open a door into the right of way.

“Say a bicycle is riding on the street, and somebody doesn’t look before they open their door and they open it right in front of a bicycle and causes a crash,” Kopper says. “Today there is nothing that really says who is at fault for that. And we think it should be the fault of someone opening the door directly in front of a bicycle.”

Another set of change are intended to protect vulnerable road users, which can include cyclists, pedestrians, and construction workers working in the street.

This would require drivers to give vulnerable road users a wide berth: three feet of clearance for cars and six feet for buses and large trucks.

City Council will hear the first reading of the proposal Wednesday.

A formal presentation by the Planning and Transportation Department is scheduled for next week’s council meeting.

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