After some news stories last fall*, we’ve been quiet in regards to the Athens in Motion Plan (AiM). The plan consultants, Toole Design Group, have used all the public feedback, added a few scoops of quantitative data, and whipped up a Draft Network Plan. Toole also presented their first thoughts about their Safety, Education, & Encouragement plan. Before the full plan goes in front of the Mayor & Commission for final acceptance, there will be another big round of public engagement. Perfect timing, then, for a update on the monthly, public Citizens Advisory Committee meetings.
Last summer, ACC & Toole developed a “heat” map to determine areas with high walking and biking demand. They also created a Level of Comfort Map (p. 2). Level of Comfort, remember, rates streets on how comfortable they feel for people walking and biking. We’ve been advocating for Level of Comfort for while, so we are very excited to see it incorporated into the new plan. Next, all the stakeholders joined efforts to gather public input. Not only did Toole create a wiki-map to collect comments; we also went out into the community—hosting information tables on UGA Campus, at Farmer’s Markets (West Broad & Bishop Park), in Winterville, and at Rocksprings (among other places).
Toole then took the heat demand map, the Level of Comfort map, public feedback and other considerations to create the Draft Network Plan (ACC will provide official public comment forms this week). At first glance, long-time advocates will probably immediately see some comment-worthy choices. Look, for example, at the Prince Ave and Broad St. corridors. This map is still in flux. It may not look like this when all is said and done, especially if they receive robust input. Hint. Hint.
Keep in mind that the Network Plan is only one piece of the larger Athens in Motion Plan. The ultimate goal isn effective, equitable, and well coordinated transportation network. One that encourages more people to walk, bike, and bus. It is easy to focus on the Network Map, but the Plan will also include extensive design guidelines. These design guidelines will ensure we maximize the effectiveness of bike lanes, create best-practice crosswalks, improve street / trail interfaces, and have safe and convenient access to bus stops. Finally, at April’s meeting we received some insight to the add-on Safety, Education, and Encouragement Plan. As this section of the plan comes into focus, we will keep you all informed.
*We publish the date / time / location of every Athens in Motion Plan meeting on Facebook and on our website. Due to changes in Facebook policy, it may be harder and / or slower for us to get the events imported to our site.