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Mayor Burke eyes bike sharing

Could be part of downtown streetscape

DIXON – The mayor would like to see Dixon become more bicycle-friendly.

Part of that could happen during the downtown streetscape project, Mayor Jim Burke said Friday.

The mayor sent a letter to Ed Barsotti, executive director of the League of Illinois Bicyclists, on Dec. 18 to seek recommendations on bike rack styles and placement, in addition to soliciting Barsotti’s thoughts on a bikesharing program for Dixon.

Burke has followed the Chicago’s bike sharing, he said, and sees opportunities for something similar for Dixon residents that would also boost tourism.

Chicago’s bike-sharing program, which is a program of the Chicago Department of Transportation called Divvy, consists of 4,000 bikes and 400 stations across the city, according to the program’s website. The bikes can be used during a 24-hour pass or by residents with an annual membership.

“I think, if Dixon were to approach it like Chicago, it wouldn’t be as successful,” Barsotti said. But if the city looked at it as an element of tourism, he said, it could be good.

On Friday, Barsotti sent Burke an email, recommending the city consider a bike rental program with a centralized location, rather than a sharing program.

Barsotti also recommended other elements, like shared lane markings and bikeway infrastructure, as ways to make the city more bike-friendly.

Barsotti told Sauk Valley Media he knows the mayor wants to make the city bike-friendly, and that the city has taken some steps in that direction.

“I know it’s on [Burke’s] mind, and I’ve applauded him for making it a priority,” Barsotti said. “I think Dixon is definitely on the right track and looking at this as a way to make their community a 21st-century community.”

Other than programs at a few colleges or universities, Barsotti wasn’t aware of other communities in Illinois, outside Chicago, that have established bike-sharing programs. But, he said, more have started to think about it.

Alta Bicycle Share Inc. works with cities to help facilitate bike-sharing programs. The group has helped to establish programs in Chicago; New York; Columbus, Ohio; Bay Area, Calif.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Boston; Washington; and Melbourne, Australia, according to its website.

Burke said he plans to reach out to Dixon bicyclists for their input on bike sharing and bike racks, which could be placed downtown as part of a larger push to become more bike-friendly.

Being more bike-friendly, for residents and tourists, could include trails along historical routes of Dixon, Burke said, including highlights of President Ronald Reagan’s life in Dixon.

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