S.P. Council Considers Bicycle Plan
For more on the bike plan, click here.
Many Southern Pines residents could soon reap the benefits of a safer bike ride around town.
The Southern Pines Town Council is considering the adoption of a comprehensive bike plan that would make the area more bicycle friendly and encourage residents to use nonmotorized transportation.
The council will hold a public hearing on the plan and vote on it Tuesday evening during its regular meeting at the Douglass Community Center.
The drafted plan is part of a $45,000 Bicycle and Pedestrian grant awarded to the town by the N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) last December.
The Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning Grant Initiative matches funds with municipalities as an incentive that encourages municipalities to help improve bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.
The town hired Greenways Inc., an environmental consulting firm based in Durham, and Henderson Consulting to prepare the comprehensive bike plan for the area with the help of a local bicycle steering committee.
Charles Flink, president of Greenways Inc., presented a draft of the plan, which includes public input on current bicycling conditions and recommendations for safer routes, to the Town Council at its last work session.
According to the report, downtown Southern Pines ranks third in bicycle commuting among N.C. municipalities with 1.9 percent of its population using bikes for transportation. The town trails Carrboro (5.2 percent) and Chapel Hill (2.4 percent).
Though Southern Pines has some areas that have ideal conditions for riders, the plan’s report on current conditions indicates a lack of connecting routes that facilitate travel by bike to popular destinations, such as downtown and recreational areas.
The field study also found that some cyclists often do not wear helmets, ride in the wrong direction on the road or ride on sidewalks instead of the road.
Safety conditions were also determined based on public input
More than 300 residents filled out surveys both online and at town events, such as Springfest, to provide information about the area’s current conditions for bicycling.
When asked to rate the current conditions for bicycling in town, 53.2 percent said the conditions were fair, while 41 percent said conditions were poor and 5.8 percent said conditions were excellent.
To make current routes safer and connect those routes, the plan suggests a variety of projects that would install bike lanes, shared road symbols, route signage, bike racks and multi-use paths around town. The projects address key areas, such as Morganton Road, Broad Street and Midland Road.
Some projects are easy to implement quickly, while several would require a great deal of coordination with NCDOT, which maintains most of the town’s roads.
Flink emphasized that building new infrastructure is only one part of the process. The plan also suggests the implementation of educational programs for both motorists and cyclists to promote an understood etiquette for sharing the road.
The plan recommends the formation of a Bicycle Pedestrian Advocacy Committee (BPAC) to create a constant dialogue between the town and the community and to help implement educational programs.
Mayor Mike Haney said he would love to see some of the plan’s ideas come to fruition.
“We’re a perfect town to be bicycle friendly,” he said.
Flink said the town’s adoption of the plan would send a message to NCDOT that the town wants to pursue and implement programs that create a healthier, well-connected community through nonmotorized transportation.
He admitted that there is a learning curve around the system when it comes to considering nonmotorized transportation, but he added that bicycle and pedestrian planning would be a major focus for federal and state transportation funding in the future.
Contact Hannah Sharpe at email@example.com.
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