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Wednesday, May 14, 2008
By JOHN PECK
Times Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Plans also include wider shoulders for road projects
City leaders hope to make Huntsville a more bicycle-friendly community with more sign markers and a map showing the city's 148 miles of designated bikeways.
The city is also including wider shoulders in downtown road-widening projects and soon hopes to install bike racks on the courthouse square.
James Moore, bikeways coordinator for the City Planning Commission, outlined the improvements Monday night to Huntsville's Spring City Cycling Club. He also gave an update on planned greenway extensions, including a proposal to extend the Aldridge Creek greenway north from Mountain Gap Road.
News of the improvements seem timely with the skyrocketing price for gas and National Ride Your Bike to Work week.
Huntsville and Madison riders can participate in the national bike to work week Thursday by joining organized rides that start at WHNT-TV and the Publix on County Line Road. Riders are to meet at the locations at 6:45 a.m. and depart at 7 a.m. for rides to Cummings Research Park.
Moore said the cycling club can be a major advocate for bike amenities.
"They are the ambassadors for cycling in town," he said. "That being the case, they can serve the general public and voice issues they have that would bring more light to them."
The bike route maps are targeted for July. Moore said he hopes to distribute them through places such as bike shops, libraries, tourist attractions and other outlets.
Huntsville bikeways were established in the mid-1970s with updates in 1981, 1992, 2001 and 2006. The system has evolved from simply a shared arrangement on roads to one that interconnects with greenways and city transit buses outfitted with bike racks.
Moore said city buses on all 13 public transit routes are equipped with bike racks.
At the bike club meeting, cyclists pitched other suggestions that would make Huntsville, Madison and Madison County more bike friendly. Several suggested planners require developers to connect neighborhoods when building their subdivisions.
Engineer/cyclist Michael Holderer, a citizens advisory committee member of the city's Metropolitan Planning Organization road planning group, said although cycling advocates welcome the city's interest in making the city more bike friendly, some are frustrated by the slow progress.
"This place has major bike-ped potential, so it's a shame to see many opportunities overlooked," he said. More comments from bicyclists in the planning process would create better results than seeking an after-the fact reaction to a draft, Holderer said.
The cycling community has long complained the bikeway system is confusing and not promoted well. James said that should change with the new maps and additional signs marking the routes.
The bikeways take into consideration traffic volume, lane width, road conditions and "connectivity" with schools, bus stops and greenways.
Only about 30 miles of bikeways have numbered marker signs. The problem: lack of money.
"At some point in the next year or so, we hope all 148 miles will be signed," Moore said.