Three questions: Mercy Davison at the Illinois Bike Summit

Mercy Davison, town planner for Normal, Illinois, at the Illinois Bike Summit

Mercy Davison, town planner for Normal, Illinois, at the Illinois Bike Summit

Mercy Davison is a town planner and the organizer behind the Second Annual Illinois Bike Summit, held on May 15 in Normal, Illinois.

The summit included pre-conference meet ups at five locations, a Bike Planning 101 talk by Ed Barsotti of the League of Illinois Bicyclists, a welcome by Normal Mayor (and Vitesse Cycle Shop owner) Chris Koos, videotaped remarks by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, discussions of cycling barriers and an engineer’s look at how communities attain Bicycle Friendly recognition by the League of American Bicyclists.

The simplest way to measure the success of the event is to consider that more than 175 people interested in bicycling spent a beautiful spring day inside the Normal Marriott. All day.

So, three quick questions for the person responsible.

This is your second year organizing the Illinois Bike Summit. How did you get the job?

I just decided that Illinois needed to have a bike summit. So I had gone to the one in Wisconsin for three years in a row, and thought why am I going to another state–I think Illinois should just have its own damn summit. But no one else was doing one, and I had heard Steve Buchtel [Trails for Illinois executive director] the year before at another conference and thought I could build an event around that guy.

What’s the best thing about the event?

It helps with momentum. I think that people have felt kind of defeated on bike issues for many years, and this gets people in the same room and they can feel the energy and really see each other and see what they’re doing is making a difference, and that there’s more to be done and that people have great ideas to share, so it’s kind of a momentum and energy thing for me.

If you could change one thing about bicycling in Normal, what would it be?

Mostly I think I would just try to change driver awareness. If drivers were just more aware and considerate. Yeah. That would be it. That would be enough for me.

Davison is all about action items. Here are three items she mailed to attendees after the event. If you have room on your personal to-do list, consider adding these:

1. Keep up with the Illinois Department of Transportation process to create a statewide bike plan by visiting This is a massive information- and opinion-gathering effort, and your voice should be heard.

2. Read the complete report on the Trails for Illinois survey at This site also has a great one-page summary of the survey results, a video, and more! You can also learn about how to conduct a survey in your community.

3. Take the League of Illinois Bicyclists online bike safety quiz at These are in draft form, and the League would appreciate any feedback for both the adult cyclist and motorist quizzes. If you have children (or access to someone else’s!), have them try out the kid quiz as well. Teachers of 4th-6th grade or driver ed students can see the in-class functionality at

About 16incheswestofpeoria

Former bicycle mechanic, current peruser of books, feeder of birds.
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2 Responses to Three questions: Mercy Davison at the Illinois Bike Summit

  1. Erik says:

    Mercy is great. I had a citizens planning meeting with her some odd months ago. What struck me was that she wasn’t trained in planning, yet had such a well rounded knowledge of how communities should work.

    I still hold that the moves Normal has made recently due to its bike-loving Mayor in a pivotal period of its history will pay long term dividends.

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