- Associated Press - Saturday, January 25, 2014

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) - It started out as a simple Facebook conversation on bike racks around Peoria. Mike Honnold talked with a friend about the lack of them in the area, and his friend knew of a group taking photos of where racks should be. Honnold thought, why not take pictures of where they are?

So Honnold, a 34-year old engineer at Caterpillar Inc., spent an afternoon in November 2012 creating a website featuring a Google map and a Facebook page for his new project: wherestherack.org. Since it began, Honnold and friends have mapped out about 205 racks in the Peoria area.

Honnold said they were “surprised we got that many and initially we were finding a lot,” but the pace has slowed as they have gone through the main sections of Peoria.

The website, however, has gained traction, Honnold said. “There’s a lot more people that are aware of the website now by sending pictures and emails when they find racks around town.”

He said they do a couple of bike rides every year, focusing on a main thoroughfare in Peoria and marking all the racks along the road. They did this on Sheridan Road over Christmas break. Honnold said the rides have not gained as much attention as he would have liked - usually only two to four riders go - but he hopes they will become more popular as they get closer to mapping out the rest of the city.

The website has benefitted from a partnership with Bike Peoria, founded in spring 2013. Bike Peoria was started by local residents as a way “to improve the biking opportunities in the metro area (of Peoria) through advocacy,” Honnold said.

That includes talking with local governments and groups about installing bike lanes, paths, and new racks. Honnold said the installation of a few bike racks at Peoria City Hall was an encouraging sign for cyclists.

“If you can’t get the city to put in a bike rack at City Hall, where are you going to be able to put one in?” said Honnold.

He said there are areas of Peoria that have an abundance of racks, such as Campus Town, 1200 W. Main St. Honnold attributed this to Campus Town being close to Bradley University and in a lower-income area where not as many people own cars.

Honnold said bars in Peoria Heights are another hot spot for racks, as area cyclists organize craft beer bar crawls, riding as a group between different locations.

He said it only costs about $100 to install a rack, and he has a partnership with Bushwhacker, 4700 N. University St., to offer discounted racks to local businesses.

“I wish more businesses would have them, because it’s a cheap way to be more friendly to more groups,” Honnold said.

The next step, besides getting closer to mapping out the entire city, is to turn the page into a marketing tool for area businesses and encourage more businesses to install racks. Along with more racks around town, Honnold is looking for a way to turn his site into an app, making it easier for riders to access it on the go.

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Source (Peoria) Journal Star, http://bit.ly/1kD8fPk

Read more: http://www.pjstar.com/article/20140112/NEWS/140119742/?tag=2#ixzz2qWq9pOCJ

Read more: http://www.pjstar.com/article/20140112/NEWS/140119742/?tag=1#ixzz2qWq1u7iJ

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