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Friday, June 13, 2008

Campaigning by bicycle

Scott Hays is running for a District 1 seat on the Champaign County (Ill.) Board, and he's campaigning by bicycle -- and kayak and foot.

"In an effort to really get to know all of District 1, I have set a goal to cross District 1 by many different routes and in many different ways," Hays says on his Web site. "This includes by bicycle, by kayak, on foot and any other means. .... If you see me, say hi! I'll be the guy in the yellow hat (or black bike helmet) and purple Hays for 1 t-shirt. Better yet, anyone is welcome to join me for any of my treks."

Hays and fellow candidate Eric Thorsland are leading a 32-mile trek through northwestern Champaign County on Saturday to highlight cycling issues in the county.

"Rural Champaign County, particularly District 1, is increasingly recognized by cycling enthusiasts as a beautiful and exciting place to ride," Hays says. "But with rising fuel prices, many people will also want to consider cycling as a regular alternative to driving. Many current county roads are inadequate if not dangerous when shared by cyclists, cars, trucks and farm equipment. I support the creation of increased cycling trails and designated cycling routes to meet this need. Where possible, I support the conversation of rail corridors to cycling trails."

In addition to biking, Hays also frequently kayaks the Sangamon River in that part of the county.

Barack Obama's much-ballyhooed helmeted bicycle ride this past Sunday has me wondering whether cycling and other "green" issues will have an impact on this year's political races. I guess we'll find out in November.

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Roger 3 comments links to this post 2:16 PM

Farm equipment? Are bike-tractor collisions common? Or is sharing the road with farm equipment always an issue?
Having grown up on a farm and being a regular rider in farm country, it's not that bike-tractor collisions are common. The issue there is more that tractors, plows, combines, etc., are so wide and the country roads are so narrow that it's difficult for farm equipment and any kind of vehicle -- even bicycles -- to share the road.
I used to live in Champaign County and know the rural roads well. I've *never* had a problem with farm equipment -- sometimes one or the other of us has to leave the road, but the machines are so slow their's plenty of time to maneuver.

On the section roads, traffic is so light that it's simply not an issue.

On the major county roads, however, you've got a lot of impatient people in a hurry who aren't willing to share the road. It's in Champaign County that I encountered the most harassment and other bad behavior from motorists.

When I lived in Champaign County, an abandoned rail line was sold to the adjacent property owners, in spite of efforts by local rail-trail advocates at the time. It would have been a perfect trail.
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