Community Strategic Plan
The 38-page Community Strategic Plan is available on the City's website. I intended to write a summary to save you the trouble of reading the entire plan, and while my summary is not 38 pages it is not short! Be sure to attend the Open House tomorrow at 7:00 pm at the Kirksville RIII Middle School commons to learn more and share your opinions with city planners.
Overall I'm pleased with the plan, and pretty excited about the opportunities. The highlight of the plan is page 35 (Transportation). The plan includes a lot more focus on bike/ped than we have seen in the past, including calling for a Livable Streets policy to be adopted this year! Bike/ped is featured strongly in recreation (p20) and transportation (p35), but could be integrated a little better throughout other sections for a more thorough commitment to bike/ped.
The plan is organized into 10 target areas and I'll review them in the order they are found in the plan, skipping those that aren't relevant to bike/ped. Therefore I saved the best for last. (Be sure to read the plan yourself for information on other topics that are also important.)
- Central Business District
Flow of traffic, p4: Traffic includes bike/ped. Since bike/ped is often overlooked when traffic is mentioned, I feel this should be specifically included (not just assumed to be included).
Downtown parking, p5: It is also important to provide parking to bicyclists. Studies have shown an economic impact of providing bicycle racks. It's efficient, six bikes can be parked in the same space that one motor vehicle parks in.
Activities to draw people downtown, p6-7: Organize bike rides that begin and end downtown.
- Community Betterment
Promote community pride, p7: What could we be more proud of than receiving a designation as a Bicycle Friendly Community from the League of American Bicyclists? We could even strive for silver level!
Improve visual appearance of main thoroughfares, p7: For example by implementing Livable Streets.
Market Kirksville as a retirement destination, p17: Senior citizens need Livable Streets. Many older Americans don't drive, because of disability or fixed income or other reasons. They need safe, well maintained, clear sidewalks that are ADA-compliant.
- Recreation and Leisure Services
If you skip to this section (p20), and then transportation, you'll find most of the plan that pertains to bike/ped. This is great!
"Goal: Improve access to recreational locations within the city and county to accommodate pedestrians and non-motorized traffic". Within this goal, "Support the efforts of Forest Lake Area Trail System". Fantastic!
"Pursue every opportunity for outside funding to support expansion of the city's hike/bike trail network...tie together disconnected segments of trail". This is the kind of thing that will win us silver level Bicycle Friendly Community. (There are four levels, bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. There are only three platinum level BFC's in the US. Columbia is the only silver level in Missouri. Ten other Missouri cities/ communities are designated BFC.)
To do this right, the city should seek public input into the Kirksville Master Trail Plan and the hike/bike network. KA-Motion volunteers to help!
"...improve the shoulders along Highway 6 [to Thousand Hills State Park]". This is sorely needed!
"Work to create additional bike lanes within the City due to rising interest in using bikes and scooters as transportation." Some communities allow scooters with a maximum speed of 35 mph to use bike lanes. Other communities set the cap lower. (Note that the maximum speed does not mean the posted speed limit, it refers to how fast the scooter is capable of going and is a function of horse power.) I think it is safest for bicyclists if scooters are not allowed in bike lanes except on fast streets where the speed limit exceeds the scooter's capability-- ie, 35 mph.
I'd like to see bike lanes on Osteopathy. That street is wide enough, and the parking that is available on it is hardly used. Eliminate the parking and put in bike lanes. Jefferson is another street that can accommodate bike lanes, and the city already has plans to do that.
Some mention should be made of "bike routes". Not every street needs a bike lane. But to overlook these streets leaves us with fragments instead of a connected network. These streets could be improved with "Bike Route" signs and/or sharrows. Examples are Halliburton, Florence, and First St.
"Provide lighting...hike/bike trails" (p22). Well, the trail that goes up to Steer Creek is very dark, but I love the stars. I have mixed feelings about this.
"Explore creation of new parks and green space in underserved areas." (p23) The south side of town has few and poor parks. Compare P.C. Mills to Brashear, Memorial, or Rotary parks. The cost of 45 miles of greenway equals the cost of 1 mile repaved road. This is very feasible!
Develop special events and festivals (p32): In addition to the Bacon Festival and other events mentioned, the Tourism Office can be (and is) involved in some of the many races, including the FLATS Trail Half Marathon.
Continue to support transportation access to Kirksville (p33): Encourage Amtrak to allow bikes to board in La Plata! Amtrak allows bikes on their trains, but only if boarding at certain stations. I wonder if there's a way to get a bicycle on Cape Air? (ha ha)
"Market Kirksville as a Fitness City" (p 34). Wow. I did not expect that. We have a long way to go, but it is a most admirable goal.
More on tourism, developing "events that promote Kirksville's Hike/Bike Trails". Hm, the FLATS Trail Half-marathon springs to mind! But also shorter routes to reach the non-elite-athletes. (Not that I consider myself an elite athlete...I practically crawled that last 2 miles on the trail half.)
- Transportation, Utilities & Infrastructure
"GOAL: Improve pedestrian and bicycle safety." (p35) Now that is a goal I can get behind 100%. Here's a sentence that really made my day, "Develop a Complete Streets or Livable Streets Policy for the City of Kirksville to be implemented no later than December 31, 2012."
About expanding the bike ed/enforcement program, this would best be done consulting resources provided by the League of American Bicyclists, so that we aren't teaching people to signal a right turn by raising their left hand (the old style of a right turn signal), for example. I would love to see League Certified Instructors (LCI) involved in this. And it just so happens that I am an LCI!
Another resource is PedNet in Columbia. A couple years ago they did "Operation Share the Road" which was to get the police force on board with best cycling practices. The police no longer stop bicyclists for "obstructing traffic" but does ticket cyclists for riding the wrong way, blowing through stop signs, or riding at night without lights--practices that are very dangerous to cyclist.
Here are some other phrases to make your day. "Enforce snow removal". "Place more bike racks."