Avid Biker Weighs in on MetroBikeLink in St. Clair County, Illinois

What comes to mind when you think about the SCCTD MetroBikeLink System? The system consists of 31 miles of trails and bike paths running along the MetroLink route and connecting trails in St. Clair County. The trail system connects 6 MetroLink stations as well as the connecting MetroBus system and microtransit, which includes the SCCTD Flyer and VanGo.

Ongoing surveying of trail users demonstrates people use the system for a variety of reasons, including as a way to get outside and exercise, to spend time outdoors and ease stress, and even as part of their commute to work. Being able to take a bike on MetroLink ensures people can transition from the MetroBikeLink system to MetroLink and then on to work or home.

The St. Clair County Transit District (SCCTD) and Citizens for Modern Transit (CMT) recently had the opportunity to meet with a longtime-resident of Belleville, Duane Johnston, to hear about his experience using the MetroBikeLink system, as well as some of his hopes for the future of the system.

For Johnston, the MetroBikeLink system offers him an opportunity to spend time outdoors and recreate. Cycling along on his power-assist recumbent bicycle, he spends hours on the system, sometimes riding up to 30 miles in a day.

Having dealt with a lot of health issues that affect his mobility since 2019, the recumbent bicycle allows him the stability he needs to still be able to enjoy biking and spending time outdoors. “What the trail is doing for me is, it’s keeping my legs working,” says Johnston. “I got this bike so I can work on keeping, or getting, my legs stronger.”

Speaking specifically of the MetroBikeLink system through Belleville, Johnston says “There are a lot of benefits to the trail where, it will get you across town in places that you wouldn’t expect you would come out. Like riding along the MetroLink route, that takes you through neighborhoods you probably would never have gone through.”

When asked about his hopes for the future of the MetroBikeLink system, Johnston repeatedly emphasized the importance of connectivity. Connectivity to other area bike trails, such as the MCT Goshen Trail, as well as points of interest both for locals and visitors to the area were important to him.

As the five-mile expansion of MetroLink to MidAmerica St. Louis Airport moves forward, there are plans to add five miles of new bike path along the route. This new route will play a crucial role in the plan to better link transportation modes in the community.