Katy Shackelford works for the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, a group that covers Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford counties. According to its website, the commission “was established in 1958 to promote intergovernmental cooperation, regional planning, and a vision for the future.”
She’s also a board member of Bike Peoria and proud owner of the first bicycle she’s ridden since she was 10 years old. Before coming to the area, she was a graduate student at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.
I talked to her just after her Schwinn got a quick tune-up, including a pair of badly needed tires, at the Bike Peoria Co-op.
What do you do for the Tri-County folks?
I’m a regional planner. Right now, I’m working on the long-range transportation plan for the tri-county. It’s multimodal, so it involves all forms of transportation.
That involves bicycles?
That involves bicycles. The bicycle end is going great. We’ve got a lot of feedback from the community. We’ve got an active public engagement site up right now. It’s envisionHOI.mindmixer.com. People are putting in their input on where they think improvements in transportation need to be made throughout the region. I have to say most of the improvements have been along the lines of improved bicycle-pedestrian access and increased access to transit. A lot of people are talking about using transit and bicycles to get to work.
So why are you a board member of Bike Peoria?
I’m a board member of Bike Peoria because I moved here and found a great group of people who were really passionate about making Peoria a better place, and we thought we could do something with bicycles. I wanted to be a biker, and I thought, I knew the government side and I wanted to know the bikers’ side. So I’m trying to be the link between the professional and the activist, I guess.
Tell me about your bicycle.
This is the first bike I’ve had since I was a kid, and we moved around a lot as children, so I didn’t even have a bike once I turned 10 years old. I had friends who would try to give me bikes in college, but they were always too tall for me. So I found this one on Craigslist, $35. Happened to be a woman in Pekin who said “great condition.” She just left it in her garage 25-odd years.
And what kind of riding are you doing?
I ride with the Women on Wheels. They meet at Bushwhacker on Thursdays at 5:30. And it’s a great group of beginners. You don’t have to be a professional to do it. Especially me, since [I just finished] my first real 10-mile ride. So it’s for fun. I like to use it to get around and do bar crawls.
What do you see happening in 2015?
For me, I just want to be more comfortable riding. I want to feel safer on my bike and know more about it and feel more comfortable on the road. I think as a member of Bike Peoria and as a member of the board, I was the least experienced biker, and I really want to improve my credibility.