The town of Cornelius wants the public’s input as cyclists, business owners and government officials develop a bicycle master plan meant to make navigating the town on two wheels safer and easier.
A committee of nearly 20 people will work with Alta Planning and Design to gather community input before creating the official “Bike!Cornelius” plan. The town wants feedback about current conditions and residents’ hopes for cycling in the future.
The plan will assess conditions and help officials determine the need for and how to construct future amenities, such as bicycle lanes and greenways. The plan will include campaigns that help make cycling safer and more accessible.
A two-day planning charrette will be April 21-22 at Cornelius Town Hall, 21445 Catawba Ave., and another public meeting will be sometime this summer. A charrette is an intensive planning session where residents, designers and others collaborate on a vision for development. Town officials expect to finish the bike master plan by the end of 2015.
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Roughly 75 percent of the planning costs will be covered using a Bicycle and Pedestrian Division Planning Grant from the N.C. Department of Transportation.
Bike lanes, share-the-road markings and shared-use paths will be among some potential amenities that could be developed, and most will be created within existing street rights-of-way.
Jason Pauling, senior planner for the town of Cornelius Planning Department, said the Bike Cornelius project kicked off this winter. The former greenway planner for Mecklenburg County started working in Cornelius in 2013.
“The town completed a pedestrian master plan in 2010 to address greenways, sidewalks and sidepaths, but did not address other facilities specifically focusing on cycling in Cornelius,” said Pauling. “We also wanted to … include a more comprehensive approach to bicycling to encompass the Lake Norman Bike Route, the Carolina Thread Trail and the Mooresville-to-Charlotte proposed trail concept.”
The town’s plan also will focus on creating safe routes to school for students at J.V. Washam Elementary, Cornelius Elementary, Bailey Middle School and Hough High School, Pauling said. It also will prioritize ways to increase bicycling safety and create programs that educate and increase awareness of the benefits of biking to school.
“Local cyclists that currently bike on roads in Cornelius will be major players in the discussion, but the primary goal is to address safety concerns and to increase and encourage more residents to bike in and around Cornelius that currently are not using the system, but would bike more often if the appropriate facilities and/or safety measures were put in place,” Pauling said.
During the last month, nearly 300 people have responded to the town’s online survey about the bike plan, Pauling said. Out of those, less than 4 percent said they’d never use bicycle facilities, and about 5 percent said they are not cyclists.
As automobile traffic increases, Pauling said, residents will need and want more transportation choices for recreation and everyday tasks. “We are also less inclined to walk or bike to our destination of choice … because we are concerned about safety,” Pauling said.
Will Washam, another planner with the town of Cornelius, thinks this bike plan will let local cyclists know that Cornelius is committed to improving its bicycle transportation network.
“Staff will be using public input to review the current cycling conditions within our entire existing transportation network,” Washam said. “In a nutshell, the completion of this plan will mean that all (residents) of Cornelius can look forward to a town where safe bicycling can be a part of everyday life.”
Washam said he travels by bike an average of six days per week, riding to work, the grocery store and other errands or outings.
“Cycling is an efficient and viable mode of transportation, as well as a healthy and fulfilling recreational activity,” Washam said. “This planning effort seeks to identify the current strengths and weaknesses in Cornelius’ bicycle network and produce strategies and recommendations that will allow the town to provide safe and effective facilities for bicycles.”
A public survey about the plan is available online at http://bit.ly/bikecornelius. All replies are anonymous.
A two-day planning charrette for Bike Cornelius will be April 21-22 at Cornelius Town Hall, 21445 Catawba Ave. Details: Jason Pauling: 704-892-6031, ext. 113 or firstname.lastname@example.org.