By Sarah Nigbor
RIVER FALLS – The River Falls City Council approved the creation of a Bicycle and Pedestrian Steering Committee at its Nov. 9 meeting as the next step in updating the city’s Bike & Pedestrian Plan.
Members include Alderperson Alyssa Mueller; Joe Haselman, River Falls School District; Joe Wolf, UW-River Falls; Kent Kittleson, Allina Health; Isaac Curtis, Crank Worx Bike Shop; and River Falls residents Sue Goblirsch and Anna Zalusky.
The city is updating its Comprehensive Plan, Bike & Pedestrian Plan and Outdoor Recreational Plan. Wisconsin Department of Transportation awarded the city a grant to prepare an update to the city’s 1995 Bike & Pedestrian Plan which will develop a framework to enhance the safety and appeal of walking and biking in the community. The grant is an 80/20 cost share, reimbursable program based on a plan cost of $60,000.
According to a city council memo, the plan will:
•Combine past planning efforts with new research and analysis to integrate recent local and regional planning efforts and growth areas of the city.
•Identify gaps and barriers, both perceived and actual, in the existing bike and pedestrian network.
•Develop and prioritize projects, including on and off-street improvements, sidewalk infill, regional connections, design direction that can be applied to different streets, and a tiered network for experienced and less experienced riders.
•Establish policies and program recommendations to encourage walking and biking as viable transportation modes.
•Identify strategies to elevate the city’s Bicycle Friendly Community designation with the League of American Bicyclists.
•Set a capital improvement schedule for plan implementation.
The hope is that an up-to-date plan and the associated improvements and additions will enhance the safety and appeal of walking and biking to current and prospective residents, businesses, employees and visitors. A portion of the project will be federally funded.
The city has contracted with SRF Consulting and Alta Planning + Design to complete Comprehensive Plan and Outdoor Recreation Plan updates. Completing the Bike & Pedestrian Plan at the same time is not only efficient, but will work in synergy with the other plans.
The steering committee will provide information and direction to the planning process, review draft documents, engage the community and advise the Plan Commission and City Council.