State bicyclists group honors Madison County trails

News-DemocratApril 24, 2014 

Madison County Transit received the League of Illinois Bicyclists' first-ever Innovation Award for the development and ongoing enhancement of the MCT Trails bikeway system.

"When we looked at the Innovation Award, Madison County Transit really struck us," said Ed Barsotti, executive director of the League of Illinois Bicyclists.

"They're a transit authority that is building trails, and the trails are connecting transit to destinations in the community. They see the connection between bicycling and transit and they're doing something about it."

Dick Westfall, vice president of the organization, said in a news release that the county's conversion of the abandoned railways to trails "give cyclists of all skill levels to get out and ride."

Jerry Kane, MCT managing director, received the award April 15 at the annual Illinois Bike Summit in Champaign.

The League of Illinois Bicyclists also honored Chicago with its Project Award for its bicycle-sharing program and dedicated bike lanes; Morrison won the Initiative award for a bike trail built outside of town at a state park.

For more than two decades, MCT has developed more than 115 miles of separated, inter-connected bikeways in Madison County, known as the MCT Trails. They were constructed on former railroad rights of way.

Westfall called MCT's vision for bike trail development "innovative."

"Converting those abandoned railways to trails, which provide transportation and recreation for the public, is a great use of those corridors because bike trails are important," Westfall stated in a news release. "They expand the market for bicycling by giving cyclists of all skill levels a chance to get out and ride."

The League of Illinois Bicyclists is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving bicycling conditions in Illinois. The League is the statewide advocate for all Illinois bicyclists, promoting access, education, and safety.

The League has about 150 members in Madison and St. Clair counties; and about 2,300 statewide.

"We hear about good examples around the state. For a very long time we've known about what MCT has done and very glad to give them this award," Barsotti said.

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