Bike rack

The city of Auburn’s bikeway and greenway initiative, Connect Auburn — designed to increase accessibility and safety for those who walk, run and cycle in Auburn — is progressing since its announcement last fall.

In an effort to increase public involvement in the project, Alta Planning + Design, a consulting group out of Atlanta, recently hosted an open house at which residents could come and give feedback and recommendations for the city’s bikeways and greenways.

The city is also seeking input from citizens through an interactive map on connectauburn.com. Residents can go on the website and give feedback on potential bikeways and greenways that include bike lanes, bicycle boulevards and multi-use paths.

“So far we’ve gotten a lot of positive response, a lot of appreciation for the effort and the plans and what the city is trying to achieve,” said Traffic Engineer Brandy Ezelle. “So really right now, everything is pretty positive.”

The online interactive map will be available to residents for about another month while the city and consultants work on other components of the plan, Ezelle said.

The city of Auburn adopted its first bikeway plan in 1988, but after a needs-assessment survey conducted by the Auburn Parks and Recreation Department in 2015, plans to evolve the bikeway plan began.

“Every plan needs to be updated every so often, and bicycling infrastructure in particular has made a lot of advancements in that time frame. So, we knew we needed to update that and then we were also looking at adding to our greenways,” Ezelle said.

The survey was the first step in creating the Parks, Recreation and Culture Master Plan, which was adopted by the City Council in May 2018. Through the survey, it became clear that the residents of Auburn wanted an improved bikeway and greenway system.

“We have a community that desires to be healthy,” Ezelle said. “If you look around Auburn, you’ll see a lot of people walking, running, jogging, spending time outdoors with their families and their kids and they want convenient, safe and attractive places to do that.”

Auburn currently has 35 miles of dedicated bikeway and greenway facilities, a number that is set to increase significantly in the near future, Ezelle said.

“There are a lot of bicycle paths in Auburn already. A number of them are not connected — there’s pieces over here, over there,” said Bruno Ulrich, who attended the recent open house and who serves as secretary of the Auburn Bicycle Committee. “One small effort was to start connecting them and then ultimately the plan is for the consultant to break it into short-term, intermediate and long-term planning and then translating that into budgetary items.”

After the open house, Ezelle and her team set up a pop-up event at CityFest last Saturday in order to receive further public feedback. Now, the plan is to analyze public comments, finalize feedback and prioritize future steps in the project, Ezelle said.

According to the website, the goal is to have the plan adopted sometime this year.

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