After 2nd bicyclist hit, Batavia asks IDOT to speed up Route 31 safety work

After another bicyclist was hit Wednesday while crossing Batavia Avenue, Batavia officials are asking the state to speed up approval of a plan to make the road safer.

“In light of the recent serious accidents, the city plans to request IDOT (Illinois Department of Transportation) to expedite their review for the road diet so that we may get that implemented as soon as possible,” city administrator Laura Newman announced in a news release Thursday.

The city is also asking the IDOT, again, to install unspecified safety improvements in the meantime.

The road diet would reduce the four-lane road — which is state Route 31 — to three lanes. There would be one for each direction, plus a center turn lane. Bicycle lanes or more sidewalks could be added. The road diet could be applied for 3.3 miles, from Fabyan Parkway south to Mooseheart Road.

The city council will discuss the matter at its committee meeting at 7 p.m. June 13.

The city needs IDOT's permission because the agency controls the road.

In April 2022, a traffic consultant said reducing the lanes could reduce crashes by 20% to 50%, but it could also increase the backups for northbound and southbound traffic lights at Wilson Street and Main Street.

The consultant's study said about 85% of the crashes on the road were rear-end collisions or involved turns.

In 2015, the city received permission to install flashing beacons at McKee, Morton and Union streets' intersections on Batavia Avenue to warn drivers that pedestrians could be crossing there. They are activated with the push of a button by pedestrians. However, only two are left after the McKee one was destroyed in an accident. It was not replaced because the federal government withdrew its approval of such devices.

IDOT does not permit pedestrian-activated signals that stop traffic in its district, which includes Chicago and the suburbs.

Wednesday's crash happened at Union, south of downtown. A teenager was critically injured. The intersection is used by people going to nearby Harold Hall Quarry Beach.

On May 23, a 42-year-old woman on a bicycle was struck by a minivan while crossing from the Les Arends Forest Preserve to Millview Drive. Batavia police announced Thursday that nobody will be ticketed. After interviewing the people involved and independent witnesses, police said that “the minivan driver had no opportunity to avoid colliding with the bicyclist as the rider entered the intersection.”

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