Harrisonburg-Rockingham bicycle, pedestrian plan to identify improvements for region
Bicyclists and pedestrians in the Harrisonburg-Rockingham area can look forward to safer and more convenient places to walk and ride in coming years, thanks to a new Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan being developed by the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Metropolitan Planning Organization (HRMPO) and planners at the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission (CSPDC).
Public input will be a key element in creating the comprehensive plan for bike/ped improvements, and a dynamic involvement program will be initiated to solicit community participation. This will include a Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee made up of city, town, and county staff, elected officials and members of the public; a public workshop; a public scoping/comments system on the HRMPO website; and a public information meeting.
Harrisonburg’s Vice Mayor and HRMPO member Charles Chenault touts the benefits of the new bike/ped plan: “Providing alternative transportation options such as cycling and walking within our region not only contributes to the quality of life of our citizens, it makes the Harrisonburg-Rockingham area an attractive destination for business development and tourism. We will be encouraging full public participation in the planning and building of this comprehensive Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan to ensure that walking and biking are a safe and viable option for everyone who lives and visits our area. It will also be important to take Harrisonburg’s award winning bicycle infrastructure and create connectivity with the County’s future infrastructure. This is another example of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County working together.”
The initial study will provide an analysis of bicycle and pedestrian transportation in the region and identify infrastructure needs and other initiatives to enhance biped options. The final plan will create a framework for the development of an efficient, safe and interconnected system of pedestrian, bicycle, and multi-use facilities that will augment the transportation system of the HRMPO area. Recommendations will include such improvements as bike paths, shared-use trails, sidewalks, safety facilities and other bicycle and pedestrian accommodations. The engineering and planning firm McCormick-Taylor has been hired to conduct the study and prepare the plan. They will be assisted by Toole Design Group. Both organizations are nationally-recognized consultants in the field of bicycle and pedestrian planning.
The HRMPO has been actively improving the bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and encouraging safe bicycling as a viable transportation alternative for the past six years as part of their overall mission to implement continuing, cooperative and comprehensive transportation planning and programming within the MPO region. The HRMPO planning area includes portions of Rockingham County, the city of Harrisonburg and the towns of Bridgewater, Dayton and Mount Crawford.
Planning for alternative transportation has become more of a priority throughout the Harrisonburg-Rockingham region in the past decade. With many ongoing initiatives resulting in expanded facilities, increased users, and a bike/ped plan approved by the City of Harrisonburg, the introduction of a region-wide Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan will consolidate and guide improvements to the multi-modal transportation system. Local government officials and bicycle advocates see a well-coordinated emphasis on improving bike/ped infrastructure and the promotion of the area as bicycle and pedestrian friendly can significantly increase economic opportunity and health within the community.
Thomas Jenkins of the Shenandoah Bicycle Company and Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition sees the bike/ped plan as a necessary planning element for the Valley’s future: “Every community, city, county and region needs and deserves a well thought out, professional bicycle and pedestrian plan. It is important that a regional comprehensive bike/ped plan brings together public planners and citizen advocacy groups. The working partnership of these organizations in the planning process brings together the passion, knowledge and professionalism which is needed to create a safe and useful plan which will shape a community for decades to follow.”
More information about the HRMPO and the Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan can be found on their website: www.hrvampo.org.