Special to Reflector-Chronicle
With the adoption of Resolution No. 011413-2 the Abilene City Commission endorsed the concept of a bike and pedestrian trail network to be designated throughout the community. The purpose of the trail is to provide safe access to alternative modes of transportation, such as biking and walking. The reasons to provide safe and accessible routes for bicyclists and pedestrians are many:
• There are many neighborhoods in Abilene that have no sidewalks because they were not required when the development was constructed.
• Several major transportation corridors (i.e. Buckeye Avenue, Cedar Street, Etc.) carry high volumes of vehicular traffic that have the potential for danger for many citizens seeking to get around on foot or bike.
(See: Trail, page 6)
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• Students used to walk to school more than they do today, and this may partly be a function of perceived unsafe routes that lack adequate infrastructure to provide parental peace of mind.
• Vehicles have been an ever-important mode of transportation for the travelling public since World War II. Over time, this has led to decreased exercise in communities and higher rates of obesity, diabetes, and other health-related issues.
• Studies have shown that people looking to relocate to a community are often interested in bike and pedestrian trails or corridors because of the understood benefits to the overall quality of life for the community from such amenities.
The process of implementing a community bike and pedestrian network will take time, but will be worth the effort once completed. The City has identified the following action items to address as part of the planning process:
• With feedback from the community, designate a safe and accessible route for bicyclists and pedestrians using existing assets such as the Mud Creek Levee.
• Develop a Sidewalk Improvement Agreement for areas where sidewalks do not exist along the designated route and there is insufficient room within the public right-of-way to construct a sidewalk.
In partnership with the School District, review the existing Safe Routes to School assessment determine if there are certain recommendations that are still relevant. Develop a plan for implementing such recommendations.
•Explore the possibility of submitting proposals to the Kansas Department of Transportation for potential funding to be used to implement recommendations from the Safe Routes to Schools assessment.
•Reallocate funding previously designated for residential and commercial sidewalk repair ($25,000 per year) and invest it into the designated route to create a base route.
•Identify with feedback from the community, possible future routes for trail branches that would connect to the initial route, providing access to various neighborhoods and sites throughout the community.
•Direct the Planning Commission to review existing land use policies and regulations regarding bicycling and walking to recommend changes that may be more advantageous to promoting and protecting these alternative modes of transportation.