This past Thursday, about 40 people engaged in spirited discussion about bicycling and walking in Portage County during an all-day information-gathering workshop for the Portage County Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning Project.
This public workshop was moderated by Tom Huber and Kevin Luecke, consultants with Toole Design Group, who are working with the Portage County Planning and Zoning Dept to create a county-wide bike/ped plan over the next year. The intent of this workshop was to get feedback from government officials, community leaders, and ordinary citizens on the current state of and desired improvements for biking and walking in both the urban and rural areas of Portage County. The consultants certainly heard a great deal of such feedback.
Besides discussion of general bicycling and walking issues, there was particular focus on a few selected topics: Safe Routes to Schools, health and wellness synergies, enforcement and education, and UWSP issues. During these discussions, participants eagerly marked up enormous maps illustrating where they prefer to ride and walk and where there are problems with our bicycle and foot traffic networks.
A diverse set of interests and experiences were brought to the workshop by participants. Ages spanned from college student to well-past retirement. I think there were more men than women in attendance (I didn’t take a count), but opinions from both genders were abundantly offered. There were plenty of urban voices, but many rural residents had their say. Elected and staff officials from several municipalities participated, and professionals from local organizations contributed, but most attendees were just plain folks talking about their experiences biking and walking.
Attendees did include some who self-identified with walking, but the majority focused on bicycle issues. The bicycle perspectives offered were varied: year-round commuting, long-distance recreational riding, mountain biking, Green Circle casual riding, errand and shopping riding. Some were Poky Pedalers, some were not. From a transportation perspective, some were interested in short trips around the Stevens Point urban area, and some were interested in bicycling from village to village in the county.
In my opinion, having this diverse set of perspective was wonderful and created a rich set of opinions. We certainly gave the consultants for the Portage County Bike/Ped Plan a lot to work with as they identify the highlights of our bicycling and walking networks, the challenges that still exist, and possible implementations for making improvements.
At the upcoming Bike/Ped Plan Steering Committee meetings on Wednesday March 6, the agendas include a short presentation by Mr Huber summarizing what took place at this public workshop. These Steering Committee meetings are open to the public and will be a good opportunity to hear how the opinions expressed at the workshop will influence the bike/ped planning process.
To find out the time, place, and agenda for these Steering Committee meetings, select the Portage County Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning Process page under the Speak Your Poky item in the menu bar above. Also, in the next day or two, you can also expect a new PPSP post about these upcoming meetings with this information.
If you missed the public workshop, there are still many great opportunities to contribute your comments about bicycling and walking and influence the content of the county’s bike/ped plan. The Speak Your Poky page lists several ways for you to express your opinions. There will also be more public meetings as the plan takes shape over the next year, and I’ll list those on that same page once their schedules are announced.
The Portage County Bike/Ped Plan Project is still in its early stages. I am excited by the potential for this project to move our community forward in creating an outstanding network for bicycle and foot traffic. That excitement has been magnified by the discussions that took place during the public workshop.
I hope Poky Pedalers share my excitement and choose to get involved as this planning process continues.
Disclosure: Bob Fisch, Chief Bike Fun Officer of Poky Pedaling Stevens Point, is a member of the Urban Steering Committee for the Portage County Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning Project. Posts about this project appearing on the PPSP website are part of a broader PPSP effort to keep readers informed of bikey news in our area. Nothing posted on the PPSP website should be considered to be official communication from the Portage County Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning Project. The official website for this project can be accessed at http://portagecobikepedplan.wordpress.com.
Send feedback on this post by e-mail: