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Illiniwek Forest Preserve cyclists could see the addition of a new bike lane and a bike repair service station by the summer of 2023 thanks to a $200,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). The IDNR funding, awarded to the Rock Island County Forest Preserve District is part of the Recreational Trails Program (RTP). The grant will improve the county-owned Illiniwek’s portion of the existing Mississippi River Trail/Great River Trail. The RTP is designed to provide funding assistance for acquisition, development, rehabilitation and maintenance of both motorized and non-motorized recreation trails throughout the country. Illiniwek is one of six forest preserves governed by the Rock Island County Forest Preserve Commission. The others are: Loud Thunder Forest Preserve, Niabi Zoo, Indian Bluff Golf Course and Forest Preserve, Dorrance Park and Martin Conservation Area. The grant money going to the 173-acre forest preserve near Hampton also will be used to increase safety and accessibility by expanding the main road through the campground to expand the space between bicyclists and motorized traffic. A rebuilt bathroom also is planned, according to a news release. Hutchison Engineering, Inc., of Moline, will oversee the project design. The forest preserve plans to bid out construction for the park renovations later this year in order to make the improvements available to the public by summer 2023. Kai Swanson, president of the forest preserve district, said the amenities that will be added will be good for cyclists and for Illiniwek as it seeks to stand out among other trail segments. Take, for example, the free-standing self-serve bike repair station – amenities which typically include a lift for easy access, handy tools secured to the stations, and air pumps. “Whenever you ride a bike, you're going to lose some air in the tires, nuts and cables can loosen, etc.,” Mr. Swanson told the QCBJ on Thursday, March 17. “By the time I ride from my house in Rock Island over to Sunset Park, hit the trail and peddle up to Hampton, any number of minor issues can arise, especially with a 'classic ride' like my beloved 1981 Motobecane. “Many people get their first glimpse of a Rock Island County Forest Preserve resource by riding through on the Great River Trail,” Mr. Swanson said. “One of our goals would be to get these folks to stop, look around, and decide they want to come back.” In addition, the new lane is expected to increase safety for both bicyclists and motorized traffic. “We have a dedicated biking community in the Quad Cities that frequents both the paved trails through the campground and the off-road forest trails on the other side of the park,” Mike Petersen, Illiniwek Forest Preserve ranger, said in the release. “We’re thrilled to continue to enhance this amenity for Quad Citizens and out-of-town visitors alike.” The new amenities join a host of others the district already offers including: primitive camping areas, 60 pads with water and electric hookups, a boat launch ramp, hiking trails, a picnic shelter and a scenic wooded bluff picnic area overlooking the Mississippi River. “We have a responsibility to conserve this land, and that includes protecting the amenities and accessibility that allows our community to experience all that it has to offer,” Mr. Swanson added. “These renovations represent our unwavering commitment to ‘Keep the QC Outdoorsy’ and provide local destinations for education and recreation for all residents to enjoy.”