At its January 3 meeting the Cornelius Town Board voted unanimously in favor of adopting the Bike Cornelius! bicycle master plan. The plan outlines recommendations for both infrastructure and programming that will promote and provide for safe bicycling throughout the town.
Senior planner Will Washam outlined the vision for the plan, which is to make Cornelius a “premier bicycling destination” in the state and in the region by providing a well-connected network of safe and comfortable on-street and off-road bikeways for residents and visitors of all ages and abilities, said in his presentation to the board.
Town board members and staff members – as well as the citizens who spoke during public comments – all expressed their support of and excitement for making Cornelius a more bicycle friendly town.
“This plan will be a tremendous tool for us moving forward,” Town Planning Director Wayne Herron said. “It’s going to assist us not only in our day-to-day planning and development, and how we look at development as far as how bicycles are integrated as an alternative mode of transportation, but also in our budgeting – how we prioritize projects, how we budget for those, not only as single individual projects but as we look for grants.”
In 2014 the town received a grant from the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning Grant Initiative and formed the steering committee for the master bicycle plan project in Spring of 2015. The committee spent the bulk of that spring developing the plan with input from NCDOT, consultants from Alta-Planning, the Cornelius PARC department, and community members, and spent the second half of the year working with NCDOT to address comments and concerns. They received official NCDOT approval Dec. 8, 2016.
Moving forward, having a master plan like the one adopted last Tuesday will help the town compete for future grants, Herron explained.
“We are consistently applying for grants for alternative modes of transportation, and this plan will help us immensely in seeking those opportunities,” he said.
The town currently has 8.2 miles of bicycle facilities, including just over 2 miles of bike lanes and about 6 miles of greenways and side paths. The Bike Cornelius! plan recommends expanding these to a comprehensive network of bicycle facilities, all of which would total 97.4 miles (see map for details).
The plan identifies 12 priority projects, including five opportunities to implement signed bike routes in the short-term – on West Catawba, Washam Potts, Westmoreland, Nantz, Hwy 115, Torrence Chapel, and Hwy 21. Other “low hanging fruit” projects include adding bike lanes on Bailey Road to connect to the greenway, as well as raised cycle tracks to West Catawba as part of the upcoming road widening project.
In addition to infrastructure recommendations, the Bike! Cornelius plan includes recommendations for programming, that include participation in National Bike Month, consideration of a town bicycle advisory committee, designation of a staff member to coordinate efforts with the community and NCDOT, and implementation of a “safe route to school” project.
After Washam’s presentation Tuesday night commissioners commended him, Herron, and the steering committee for their excellent work on the plan.
“Having a bicycle plan like this will be an economic driver for our town,” Commissioner Michael Miltich said.
Commissioner Woody Washam added his support and enthusiasm for the project.
“I think this is a complement to our community,” he said.
Mayor Chuck Travis also expressed his support and pushed for keeping a clear and defined action plan moving forward.
Link to Jan 3 Board Meeting Agenda
Christina is a local multimedia content producer and digital strategist. Formerly the editor of CorneliusNews.net, she is thrilled to work with the OTC team to once again help tell the ever-evolving Cornelius story. She lives nearby with her husband, Nate, and a small menagerie of 2- and 4-legged beasties.