August 2014 Common Council – Portage County Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan

My name is Bob Fisch and I am the Chief Bike Fun Officer of Poky Pedaling Stevens Point.

Tonight, I will speak about the recently approved Portage County Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan.

The Portage County Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan is a template for identifying how to improve biking and walking facilities in both the urban and rural areas of Portage County over the next 20 years. The plan is the culmination of an 18-month effort involving dozens of elected officials, municipal staff members, and ordinary citizens under the leadership of the Portage County Planning and Zoning Dept. The final plan document is approximately 400 pages long and was approved overwhelmingly in a 22-1 vote by the Portage County Board of Supervisors this past April.

The plan document starts with an assessment of existing biking and walking conditions. As a framework for its abundant recommendations, it includes a vision statement along with plan goals, objectives, and policies. Detailed engineering infrastructure recommendations are listed among dozens of tables. Non-infrastructure recommendations fall into categories of enforcement, education, encouragement, and evaluation.

The plan also includes a Safe Routes to School assessment for each of the 23 public and private K-12 schools in Portage County. Each assessment includes a review of the school’s current policies and conditions, a bike and walk audit covering a half-mile radius of the school, an action plan with recommendations, and a site improvement map illustrating key infrastructure recommendations for the neighborhood. Each school can use its assessment to improve biking and walking access for its students.

As expected, Stevens Point figures prominently within the plan. Adopting the portions of the plan specific to Stevens Point as official city planning documents would be an important step towards improving biking and walking conditions for city residents. Although such plan adoption could happen in many ways, one approach would be to do so as part of the city’s revision to its comprehensive plan.

An opportunity to learn more about the plan will occur on one of my upcoming Poky Pedals. The Bike/Ped Plan Vision Ride will be this Saturday August 23 at 12:45 PM starting from Bukolt Park. The ride is free, and all Poky Pedalers are welcome. During this 11-mile loop bicycle ride, we will visit several Stevens Point locations where the plan makes recommendations to improve biking and walking. Poky Pedalers will learn about numerous innovative types of infrastructure that can substantially improve comfort and safety for those who bike and walk. I invite our alderpersons, Mayor Halverson, and all city staff to participate and gain some first-hand experience regarding the benefits of adopting the Portage County Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan.

You can get more details about the Bike/Ped Plan Vision Ride on my website, While you are there, you can find transcripts of these and all my past comments to Common Council under the Speak Your Poky menu to read at your leisure.

Thank you for listening.