ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) ----- With Rockford’s plans to revitalize its downtown now reaching bike and pedestrian paths, some long time riders think it is well worth the wait.
"It's kind of fun to hop on a bike sometimes and not have to think about shifting sometimes and just ride."
For lifelong rider Eric Nyman, Rockford's plan to map out bike paths in the city's downtown is a welcome addition.
"Well, it's more connectability, we have lots of bike paths and some good structures set up in Rockford already that have been built over the years, but they're working more to try and connect things. So, it'll be beautiful to see some of those missing links and those holes filled in to make it better for the people in the community themselves, but also people visiting," said Nyman.
With a $31 million dollar blueprint to improve the bustling streetscape, officials say the approval of a $25 million dollar federal grant toward the project is a step in the right direction.
"The ability to move this project forward, I think aligns with the overall goals of the community and that's what makes it so important," said Rockford City Manager Todd Cagnoni.
"I think it's another sign of revitalization of downtown, more people have been down here, moving in down here, when you drive down the streets, you see more foot traffic. I think amenities like that build on that success and you know, make the downtown area a more inviting place for people to live," said Paul Arena, Rockford Apartment Association.
Kegel's Bicycle Store owner Rob Sinks says while business is going up, the bike paths will open the hobby up to a larger crowd.
"I see it as an opportunity for people to feel safer and riding places for enjoyment," said Sinks.
City leaders say while the competition is steep, Rockford should hear back about the grant by this fall.