Calhoun County, IL Passes New Bicycle Ordinance
The Calhoun County, Illinois Board of Commissioners passed a new Bicycle Ordinance in April 2022.
Trailnet has been mapping beautiful bike routes through Calhoun County for 16 years. Calhoun is the third-least-populous county in the state of Illinois—a peninsula nestled between the Mississippi and Illinois rivers just North of St. Charles County, where scenic country roads wind through local peach orchards, past small towns, and along the river. In other words, Calhoun County is a cyclist’s dream.
Unfortunately, our most recent ride through the area—the 2021 Ride The Rivers Century last October—brought to light some of the county’s long-time struggles accomodating large events. When nearly 500 people on bicycles (equal to over 1/10 of the county’s population) rode off of a small ferry and onto county roads, some residents were overwhelmed.
When Trailnet caught wind of county residents’ grievances, we immediately reached out to representatives from the Calhoun County Board of Commissioners to open a dialog and try to make things right.
Trailnet Rides Director Matt Hartman attended an initial council meeting on February 25, 2022. Since then, Trailnet staff have remained engaged in conversations with Calhoun County to make sure that cyclists and residents can operate safely and in a manner that is mutually beneficial for years to come.
“Prior to our meetings, Calhoun County didn’t have any established event permitting or application processes. The County Board knew this was something they were lacking so we [Trailnet and Mike Weiss from Big Shark] offered to help define and establish some guidelines to assist them in creating one of their own,” said Hartman
When we plan our rides, we work with cities and municipalities across the region to make sure we acquire necessary permits, collaborate with police and fire districts on our routes, create full safety plans, and track riders from start to finish via our TraQ Central app. Rides through Calhoun County should be no different. But with a small Sheriff’s department and a fully volunteer-based emergency medical staff, they do not have the capacity to provide the resources some other counties can.
Additionally, in order to ride through this picturesque area, we have to send our riders down narrow roads with no markings, and as local constituents pointed out, we are often riding during their harvest—the busiest time of year in farming communities. Together we discussed how to keep our riders safe in these unique conditions.
“The point of this ordinance is not to try to push riders away,” said Keisha Morris from the State’s Attorney’s Office. “It is intended to foster these relationships, improve communication, and make sure the community is well-prepared when large rides come through.”
Below you’ll find the most recent copy of the Bicycle Ordinance of Calhoun County, Illinois. Though we contributed our expertise to the drafting process, this final ordinance was written and ultimately passed by the Calhoun County Board of Commissioners in partnership with the State’s Attorney’s office.
“The new ordinance and permit process fulfill the requests of Calhoun County community leaders and allow more seamless communication between themselves and outside event organizers,” said Hartman.
With this partnership and these guidelines now in place, we look forward to more scenic rides through this gem of the St. Louis region!
For information or questions regarding the Calhoun County Bicycle Ordinance, contact Keisha Morris at the IL State’s Attorney’s office. firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-576-9013