An overview of Cenla’s cycling / pedagogy plan
ALEXANDRIA, Louisiana (KALB) – In March 2021, Alexandria City Council approved a motion to accept the federal and local funding needed to begin the first phase of a six-part plan for Alexandria-Pineville bicycles and pedestrians.
As with all initiatives funded and executed by government agencies, these projects require long-term planning. The cycling / educational plan is part of the four-year transport improvement program (TIP) for fiscal year 2022. The 2040 metropolitan plan (MTP) details the development strategy until 2040.
Now that the city council has decided to accept the funding and the organizers have been given the green light, the first phase is under way.
“The first phase is kind of a special project because it’s just about plotting and signage… there’s no construction,” says Mike Wilkinson, chief engineer for the project. Wilkinson hopes to accelerate the first phase with help from the State Department of Transportation and Development in Baton Rouge, LA.
Interested readers can access a complete list of LADOTD Road Program projects for our region from 2000 to present here.
As gasoline prices continue to rise, alternative transportation options are vital to our economy and our community services. In 2012, Wilkinson’s team completed a project to add bike lanes on Bolton Avenue and Lee Street.
“We knew we wanted to cycle paths because by the time we were doing this gasoline prices had jumped to $ 4 a gallon and there were bikes all over town. It’s like, ‘we have to adapt to this other mode of transportation,’ ”Wilkinson said.
For Jonathan Bolen, director of transport at the Rapides Area Planning Commission (RAPC), the ideology behind the Bike / Ped plan is twofold.
“First of all, it’s an improvement in the quality of life,” Bolen said.
In central Louisiana, many of the people who depend on accessible transportation are low-income or live with a disability. The above map shows the density of households without a vehicle in the Alexandria / Pineville area.
Recommended improvements are based on need. “It comes down to a general empathy to improve transportation options for the public – where the need is,” says Bolen. “We are looking to improve everyone’s mobility, regardless of the mode of transport chosen. ”
Prioritizing community infrastructure also offers a financial return. When companies or developers are evaluating a particular location for new investment opportunities, an adequate quality of life is one of their main criteria. That economic growth stimulates the quality of life in a strengthening loop.
“To retain your population, especially the younger generations or what have you, quality of life is more important. You see it in the data, ”says Bolen.
The next pillar discusses trends in bicycle and pedestrian crash data identified as serious or fatal and incorporates these improvements into the design.
“We are adding avenues that allow people to move safely in bicycle lanes and pedestrian paths. Some of these improvements will include green spaces, crosswalks… and it’s not just non-motorized safety improvements, ”Bolen said.
BARRIERS TO WIDE-SCALE ADOPTION AND PUBLIC OPINION
The geographic spread of our metropolitan area is one of the main obstacles to the community’s desire for affordable and efficient transportation. The city of Alexandria alone covers 28 square miles.
Emily Wilmore Bullock, a local resident and mother of two, said if she lived in a more centralized location, she could see herself walking to do groceries for her family, but not in the heat of summer.
KALB posted a one-question poll on the website homepage. In response to the question “Does Alexandria need more cycle paths?” »38% answered yes, while 62% answered no.
To gain a more comprehensive understanding of general public opinion as well as their street-by-street cycling and pedestrian needs, the Rapides Land Use Planning Commission (RAPC) published a detailed survey and received 526 full responses. to the survey.
Wilkinson read the comments and found the public comments to be “overwhelmingly positive.”
Continuing public input is an integral part of the metropolitan transportation planning process. Bolen says efforts to deploy public entrance kiosks across the metropolitan area have been delayed due to COVID-19, but are on track to be available in libraries, utilities and town halls by early September 2021.
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