RACINE — For various reasons — health, environmental and economic — the city is working through a plan for how to get more people walking and cycling around town.
A master plan to improve cycling and walking in Racine that has been years in the making is making its way through the approval process and the public will get the opportunity to weigh in on those plans at a public hearing coming up later this month.
The first step was a brief presentation of the draft to the City Plan Commission on Sept. 25. A full presentation, as well as the opportunity for public comment, is planned for the Plan Commission meeting scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 23 at City Hall, 730 Washington Ave. Room 205.
The City Council is scheduled to review any recommendations from the Plan Commission at its meeting set for 7 p.m. on Nov. 5.
Goals and recommendations
The overall goal of the plan is to guide and improve the future network of cycling and pedestrian paths so they become more viable modes of transportation.
An overall recommendation is for the city to establish a “complete streets” policy and vision for creating a safe and connected transportation system.
“A Complete Street is a roadway that, in addition to general purpose vehicular travel lanes, includes items such as sidewalks, bike lanes or shoulders, bus lanes, transit stops, cross walks, median refuges, curb extensions, appropriate landscaping and other features that add to the usability and livability of the street as determined by context,” the report read. “Complete Streets principles aim to provide a balanced transportation system for all modes of travel providing transportation options are safe, comfortable and convenient for anyone to travel by foot, bicycle, transit, and automobile regardless of age or ability. Most importantly, Complete Streets are based on community desires and are the outcome of good planning and design.”
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Some of the specifics include a 10-year plan to improve connectivity between existing paths and signage to help with wayfinding.
In addition to traditional bike paths marked with pavement markings, called “greenways” in the report, the proposal also includes bicycle lanes that are separated from vehicle traffic by physical barriers and paved shoulders on low-traffic roads for cyclists and vehicles to maneuver alongside each other safely.
The report also recommends upgrading intersections with pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly features and share-use path connectors that connect bike trails with the existing grid so cyclists can access areas of the city that they cannot currently because users do not feel safe using the streets.
One specific trail connection the report proposes would connect amenities such as schools, commercial areas and HALO.
Other short-term recommendations include:
- Creating a website to promote local events and bicycle/trail tourism.
- Designating or hiring a full-time bicycle and pedestrian coordinator.
- Creating a walking and biking map.
- Applying for a bicycle friendly community designation.
- Establishing bicycle and pedestrian counts to assist with funding applications; and
- Biking and walking safety education and creating safe routes to schools.
One of the key recommendations is to create a Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee to focus on non-motorized transportation and to collaboration with neighboring municipalities and cycling groups to implement supportive programs and address issues. That group can also help the city secure funding for cycling and pedestrian projects.
Once those short-term goals are met, some of the long-term goals include a media campaign, bicycle-sharing programs, developing regional wayfinding signs, law enforcement training including crosswalk enforcement and speeding enforcement campaigns.