‘Complete Streets’ pop-up demonstration re-envisions downtown streets in Peoria

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A two-day pop-up demonstration Friday and Saturday on the 300 block of Main St. is showcasing public space designs that reimagine what streets could look like in downtown Peoria.

The transformed block has narrowed lanes to allow for protected bike lanes, enhanced bus lanes, and even a parklet.

Dr. Leslie McKnight, director of community, health, policy and planning at Peoria City/County Health Department, said the concept will increase transportation equity.

“There’s an assumption that everyone has a vehicle, and can just get in their car and go shopping and get to where they are going, but the reality is, and especially during COVID, there are a lot of people that have transportation issues where they don’t have a vehicle, where their only mode of transportation is biking or walking,” she said.

Evan Stumpges said his favorite way to get around Peoria is by bicycle. He said Complete Streets will mean safer streets.

“I think we’ll see people biking and walking, especially if they can get some of these protected bike lanes where bicyclists feel safe from car traffic,” he said.

At-Large Peoria City Councilman Sid Ruckriegel said Complete Streets would even have an impact on small businesses.

“They are able to help in the employment equity piece, where we can actually move people, comfortably, to be able to have job placements. They encourage small business, and we know that a lot of those businesses are more successful along areas of complete streets because it actually brings in eyeballs to what they are doing,” he said.

Ruckriegel said Peoria City Council is going to be making once-in-a-generation investments in infrastructure, and Complete Streets should be part of that plan.

“When we redo a street, we don’t get to do that for probably the next generation. So we want to make sure we get it right, and having that conversation of Complete Streets is the first step in that making sure that we have the design correct,” Ruckriegel said.

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