Portage County Bike/Ped Plan: Draft plan document now available for public comment

Monday evening, the Portage County Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning Project held an open house to introduce the general public to the first draft of the plan document. This draft is the culmination of the work done on this project since it started about a year ago.

Earlier that same day, the three committees for the project – the Urban and Rural Steering Committees and the Technical Committee – had a joint meeting to review the draft document. About two-thirds of the document had previously been reviewed in bits and pieces at committee meetings over the past year. This was the first opportunity to see how these parts all fit together to present a compelling vision of how to improve bicycling and walking throughout Portage County.

Based on feedback about this draft document, a final version of the plan document will be created. Comments on the draft document will be accepted until January 10 (more about that below). It should take about a month to incorporate this feedback into the final plan document. At that point, the project committees will meet one last time to approve this final version. That document will then be brought to county committees for approval, with the Portage County Board of Supervisors having the final say on acceptance of the plan document.

Joint Meeting
At the afternoon joint meeting, project consultant Tom Huber of Toole Design gave a half-hour overview of the plan document. The slides from this presentation can be accessed from this link (4MB download).

This was followed by discussion among committee members and project staff about the draft. There was consensus that the consultants had succeeded in creating an outstanding document that will prove useful in creating a better environment for bicycling and walking. Discussion primarily centered on clarifications and suggested improvements of scattered topics within the plan document. This included a few suggested changes to the bikeway facility recommendations based on committee members’ collective experience.

One plan goal that sets targets for the number of daily bicycle and walking trips in the county received particular attention at the meeting. These targets specify that in the next 20 years, the fraction of all local trips made by bicycle should become double the current fraction, and the fraction of all local trips made by walking should increase by 50% over the current fraction. (I have simplified the statement of this goal here. See the plan document – info below about how to access it – for a more specific and accurate explanation of this goal.) Committee members expressed comfort with these targets, which provide one measure of plan implementation effectiveness.

Open House
At the evening open house, around 25 community members showed up to learn about the general framework of the plan, to pour over maps, and to ask questions of and make comments to project staff. Summaries of key plan elements were posted on walls along with maps of both the urban and rural bicycle networks.

I was among several staff and committee members answering questions and providing additional plan details. One group was huddled around the rural map discussing the suggested bike routes and marking up the map with participants’ favored alternatives. The open house turned into an informal gathering for stimulating discussion about bicycling and walking. It is apparent that many community members eagerly want to see the plan recommendations become reality throughout the county.

The documents on display at the open house were posted to the official project website today. You can access a blog post containing links to all the displayed materials here.

Continued Opportunity for Public Comment
The open house was the kickoff for public comment about the draft document. Poky Pedalers are encouraged to voice your opinions to project staff. Comments will be accepted until January 10. (Note: The original version of this post had a different deadline. A post on the official project webpage states January 10 as the correct deadline for comments.)

You can access the full draft plan document from this post on the Portage County Bike/Ped Plan project website. Links to the document can also be found on my PPSP project webpage under the Speak Your Poky menu bar item.

That full plan is 94 pages long plus appendices (but only 4 MB to download without maps). If you prefer to examine an outline of the plan contents, the presentation from the afternoon meeting, available here (4 MB), is a good resource. That outline is organized by document chapter, so that if you see something you want more detail about, you can go straight to the relevant section instead of reading the entire document.

When Poky Pedalers are ready to submit comments, you can send them to Sarah Wallace of the Portage County Planning and Zoning Department. Comments can be sent to either of the following:

wallaces (at) co (dot) portage (dot) wi (dot) us

US Mail:
Sarah Wallace
Portage County Planning and Zoning Dept
1462 Strongs Ave
Stevens Point, WI 54481

This bike/ped plan provides our community with an excellent opportunity to improve bicycling and walking. Poky Pedalers shouldn’t miss out on this chance to add your voice to the collective vision for the county. Remember that January 14 is the deadline.

The PPSP project webpage will continue to be a resource where Poky Pedalers can both read all past PPSP coverage of this project and learn about next steps for the plan.

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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