Batavia officials express concern about bike safety at City Council meeting

A bicyclist rides along Batavia's Island Avenue in a "sharrow," a shared lane for both bicycles and motor vehicles. The pavement marking in the foreground designates a shared lane. The city of Batavia has placed the markings along the length of Island and Shumway avenues to provide cyclists with a better link between the four legs of the Fox River Trail that converge in downtown Batavia.

Batavia officials expressed concern at Monday’s City Council meeting about bicycle safety after two bicyclists were hit by cars in the city in recent weeks. City leaders are looking for feedback from residents about developing a plan to keep cyclists safer on local roads.

A woman died from injuries suffered after she was hit by a van on Route 31 while riding her bike May 23. A teen boy was seriously injured May 31 after he was struck while riding his bike, also on Route 31.

In reaction to those accidents, Batavia City Administrator Laura Newman announced there will be a “community conversation” about bike safety in town. Bike riders and interested community members will be able to offer their safety suggestions at the meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. June 13.

Newman said the meeting happens to coincide with a transit consultant that will present information on a “road diet” project and status.

She spoke on the need for people to speak up during next week’s meeting.

“It’s always important when you have issues that have really struck a chord with so many people in the community,” Newman said. “On the one hand, people want there to be a quick solution to a critical issue. But on the other hand, it’s important that we listen to everyone’s voice and get everyone’s ideas and then put together a plan.”

At the meeting, Alderman Leah Leman remembered the Batavia woman who died after she was struck while riding her bike last month.

“We see their pain and are standing with them,” Leman said of the woman’s family.

After the meeting, Batavia Mayor Jeffrey Schielke explained why he led the meeting in prayer, calling recent days “trying times for all of the city.”

“We’ve had a real bad time here the last couple of weeks,” Schielke said. “The fire department and ambulance have just been going absolutely crazy with all of these calls. And especially when you get people killed … you feel very bad about it. You try to do what you can.”

Schielke spoke about the outpouring of support from Batavians, whether baking a cake for families affected by the recent accidents, sending a card or making or requesting donations.

“Batavia has always been a town where something like that happens, we kind of rise to the occasion,” Schielke said. “That’s what kind of makes us special. And that’s why a lot of people have wanted to move to Batavia because that was the way life is here.”