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City giving out free ice cream for good bicyclist behavior

Naperville Community Radio Watch member Paul Johnson and bicyclist at the intersection of Ring Road and Washington Street.  |  Photo courtesy of Kelly C. Janek
Naperville Community Radio Watch member Paul Johnson and bicyclist at the intersection of Ring Road and Washington Street. | Photo courtesy of Kelly C. Janek

Ice cream, anyone?

Until Sept. 1, Naperville police officers will be on a quest. Instead of chasing down people for doing something wrong, the police will be “rewarding” bicyclists demonstrating good safety practices.

Instead of giving out citations, all city of Naperville police officers will be rewarding bicyclists who are wearing helmets and obeying traffic laws, city of Naperville’s Mary Browning said.

The reward? A free ice cream cone.

“We want to be positive and reward those bicyclists who are being safe,” she said.

On a recent Saturday morning, members of the volunteer group, Naperville Community Radio Watch (CRW) were on the corners of Ring Road and Washington Street and Royce Road and Washington Street handing out “good behavior” coupons to bicyclists.

“The CRW are like our extra eyes and ears,” Browning said.

Passing out coupons for good behavior is the culmination of a yearlong effort to reduce the number of bicyclist/motorist accidents and near misses at these intersections.

“We have had several accidents at these intersections, which was the genesis of the program,” CRW member Paul Johnson said.

Johnson explained that bicyclists should remember that the flashing orange hand at an intersection isn’t a signal for a bicyclist to speed through the intersection. It is a countdown if a bicyclist or pedestrian is already in the intersection, he added.

“If the hand is flashing, it is not legal to enter the intersection,” Johnson said.

The CRW logs in many hours assisting the Naperville Police Department in various areas, including data gathering, police observation and supervised security at special events.

“We don’t have the manpower to put patrol officers on foot at these intersections,” Browning said.

The intersections at Ring and Washington and Royce and Washington were picked in particular, Browning said, because they have heavy bicycle traffic since the path crosses Washington at both intersections.

Last year, a study of the two crossroads conducted by the CRW determined how many bikes crossed the intersection on weekends in a three-hour period.

“Hundreds of bicyclists passed through the intersection,” Browning said. In addition, she said, “many of them were not obeying the traffic signal.”

Based on the results of the study, the city posted new signs at the corner of Royce and Washington warning motorists who are turning left to be cautious and to watch out for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Additional signage also is scheduled for the corner of Ring and Washington, she added.

“I travel these two intersections all the time, and I see potential misses,” said Browning who lives near both intersections.

She encourages bicyclists to be visible and predictable at all times.

The Naperville Police Department also is encouraging residents to lock up bikes when not in use and to register their bikes at the Naperville Police Department. There is a $1 registration fee.

“We want to encourage those bicyclists who are doing the right thing to continue to do so,” Browning said, “and for those bicyclists who didn’t receive a coupon, we hope this encourages them to change their behavior.

“We are not always the bad guys.”

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