The first meeting of the Steering Committees for the Portage County Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning Project took place last night. About 50 people – committee members, project staff, and interested citizens – were present to get some context into this project and to convey personal visions about how this bike/ped plan might influence future decisions about and outcomes for our regional transportation system.
The project is under the direction of the Portage County Planning and Zoning Department. Two members of the department, Director Jeff Schuler and Associate Planner Sarah Wallace, presented background on why and how this project came into being.
Tom Huber and Kevin Luecke of Toole Design Group then presented an overview of the plan approach and schedule. Toole Design Group is the consulting organization that Portage County contracted with to produce the bike/ped plan. From their website, “Toole Design Group is the nation’s leading planning, engineering and landscape architecture firm specializing in bicycle and pedestrian transportation.” Huber and Luecke are based out of the Madison, WI office.
Huber gave a general overview of how the bike/ped plan project would proceed. After collecting data on current demand and travel patterns, analysis of this data together with area demographics will serve to identify bike/ped corridors to focus on. Huber also listed categories of possible bike/ped facilities – such as bike lanes, paved shoulders, shared-use paths, and sidewalks – that are available for recommendation in these corridors.
One important focus of the project is to enable Safe Routes to School to expand in Portage County. Much work on this has been done in the early months of the project. Luecke stated that a current assessment of all pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure within approximately a mile of all public and private K-12 schools in Portage County is nearly complete.
With regard to schedule and opportunity for public input, Luecke stated that the Urban and Rural Steering Committees will each meet about 5 times over the next year or so. These meetings are all open to the public.
Luecke also stated that 3 additional public meetings for getting citizen input are planned. The first will be a charette designed to allow individuals citizens to express specifics on what they want to see in the plan. The other two meetings will be open houses to get public feedback on the draft and final versions of the plan.
Further opportunities for public involvement were also mentioned by Luecke. Portage County will maintain a blog which will allow comments. An online survey is planned as another way to get feedback from the public. An interactive map allowing citizens to identify and comment on specific bike/ped infrastructure – good or bad, existing or desired – is now available.
I feel this interactive map is an extraordinary opportunity for citizens to give feedback on our bike/ped transportation system. I will devote a post to this project feature in the near future explaining more about the mechanics of using it as well as some suggestions of the sort of information Poky Pedalers might want to add to it.
The meeting ended with a brainstorming exercise to identify desired outcomes from this bike/ped plan project and to envision what our transportation system might look like 20 years from now as a result of this plan.
In summary, this meeting was an excellent kickoff for engaging the Steering Committees in the project. For both committee members and interested citizens, there is much to look forward to over the next year as the Portage County Bike/Ped Plan Project moves forward.
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.
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