By Brandi Makuski
Tuesday’s City Plan Commission will feature a presentation summarizing goals achieved during the first year of the Stevens Point Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC).
The committee, comprised of five mayoral citizen-appointees, was created by Mayor Mike Wiza shortly after he was elected in 2015 — largely, he said, because he “doesn’t know much about bicycling, and it’s an important part of this community.”
Although Wiza said BPAC is “advisory only to the Plan Commission”, the committee has already made a splash among bike enthusiasts in the area.
The committee kicked off 2016 by applying for a federal grant to fund painting about 14 miles of bike lanes throughout the city. Then, in March, the group held its first public workshop and bike show.
In April, the group hosted a specialist from the League of American Bicyclists, Steve Clark, who participated in a bike ride with members of the committee, as well as City Attorney Andrew Beveridge and Mayor Mike Wiza, to determine the city’s shot at reaching silver status as a Bicycle Friendly Community. The city was first included on the “Bicycle Friendly” list with a bronze recognition in 2013.
Over the summer, the committee began discussion on implementing a city-wide bike share program, and working with UWSP to create a brochure on bicycle licensing and other information. By June, the city had adopted an abandoned bicycle ordinance the committee proposed late last year.
In Aug., the group worked with a UWSP art student to create a “Walk your Wheels” stencil, which was painted on downtown sidewalks to remind cyclists they should walk their bikes in the area, which is close quarters for both pedestrians and motorists. The project was funded by the Association of Downtown Businesses.
In Sept., the group announced the city had won a federal grant totaling almost $488K to paint about 14 miles of bike lanes, with the city being responsible for 20 percent of the costs. Later that month, the group conducted what it called “the first Stevens Point only [sic] Bike/Pedestrian count”, which counted bicyclists and pedestrians during two-hour periods on two separate dates, conducted largely at intersections near the university, the Downtown District and Division Street. Other locations counted included Main and Water streets.
No count was conducted at Minnesota Ave. and Stanley St., even though some of the committee’s members have for months been holding public meetings to gain support for re-striping Stanley to improve safety.
The Plan Commission meets at 6 PM on Jan. 3 inside Conference rooms 1 and 2 of the Portage Co. Annex, 1462 Strongs Avenue. The public is welcome to attend.