Last night at the monthly Stevens Point Common Council meeting, the Council unanimously voted to adopt the portion of the Portage County Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan pertinent to the city of Stevens Point.
Although the Portage County Board of Supervisors had approved this plan in April of 2014, the county does not have jurisdiction over Stevens Point city streets. Because a significant share of the plan addresses bicycling and walking within Stevens Point, the city’s adoption of the Portage County Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan carries significant weight.
Two weeks ago, the Stevens Point Plan Commission had recommended adoption of the plan by a 5-0 vote. Last night’s Common Council agenda included approving the minutes and actions of the Plan Commission, which implicitly included the question of whether to adopt the bike/ped plan.
When this agenda item came up last night, five members of the public spoke, all in favor of adopting the plan. Among the speakers was Trevor Roark, representing the city’s recently formed Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. Roark’s comments touched on the quality of the plan document as well as the many benefits the city would reap by implementing the plan’s recommendations.
Another speaker, Cathy Dugan, put the bike/ped plan in perspective by highlighting several recommendations for better bicycling and walking from the 2008 report of the Stevens Point Eco-Municipality Task Force. The Common Council had adopted the recommendations from this report at its June 2008 meeting.
Once the public speakers had completed their testimony, it was time for the Common Council to deliberate. Without further discussion, the Council approved the minutes and actions of the Plan Commission via a voice vote with no votes in opposition. This unanimous vote signified the adoption of the Portage County Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan as an official planning document for the city.
With the adoption of this plan, Stevens Point has an official up-to-date citywide blueprint for improving bicycling and walking accommodations. Implementation of plan recommendations would be essential in creating a suitable balance among all transportation modes, thus providing residents and visitors of Stevens Point a broader choice of safe, comfortable, and convenient transportation options.
This action by Council is certainly a positive step towards ensuring the future prosperity of Stevens Point. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that this action was merely the adoption of a plan. The city must make substantial progress on implementing plan recommendations in order to realize the benefits of better biking and walking. The Stevens Point Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee is expected to play an important role in driving the implementation of these recommendations.
Poky Pedalers can certainly feel optimistic that Stevens Point is continuing down a path towards substantially better bicycling and walking. To sustain this momentum, Poky Pedalers need to continue expressing their opinions to elected leaders and city officials in order to demonstrate support for the implementation of plan recommendations.
Moving forward, I will continue to cover news about progress on plan implementation. I hope Poky Pedalers continue to read the PPSP blog in order to stay informed about bicycling and walking issues.
But just for today, perhaps we can put aside the advocacy efforts to come and simply celebrate Stevens Point’s noteworthy action of adopting of the Portage County Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan.
Disclosure: Bob Fisch, Chief Bike Fun Officer of Poky Pedaling Stevens Point, was a member of the Urban Steering Committee for the Portage County Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning Project. Posts about this project appearing on the PPSP website are part of a broader PPSP effort to keep readers informed of bikey news in our area. Nothing posted on the PPSP website should be considered to be official communication from the Portage County Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning Project. The official website for this project can be accessed at http://portagecobikepedplan.wordpress.com.