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Pedaling a plan: Jeffco planning staff seeks to create approach to bicycle-pedestrian paths

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By AJ Vicens

Planning and zoning officials say Jeffco needs an overall approach to dealing with the county’s 210 miles of bicycle and pedestrian paths.

“We have some discussion points found in the major thoroughfare plan, but no real focus on how bicycle and pedestrian paths exist and can be accommodated in the county," reads a memo from Development and Transportation Director Tim Carl.

The county commission gave Carl and his staff approval to develop the plan, which would involve public meetings with cyclists, walkers and landowners. The plan will eventually be submitted to the Planning Commission for adoption, although Carl didn't identify how long it would take.

Carl told the commissioners that informal meetings have already occurred among the county's highways and transportation staff, the county attorney's office, the Sheriff's Office and the county administrator's office.

Several key points for consideration have emerged:

• How the paths connect to schools, transit hubs and shopping centers.

• How they might impact county right-of-way areas.

• The need to create maps illustrating current bicycle and walking paths.

The talks also identified the need to adopt standards for bicycle path construction, along with standards for existing walking paths and trails.

Carl told the commissioners the plan would work as a general guide to illustrate concepts, terms and activities associated with cycling and walking paths.

Commissioner Faye Griffin asked Carl if the concept includes adding bike lanes on county roads, and Carl said the plan isn't even close to being that specific yet.

Commissioner Kathy Hartman said county transportation plans have consistently neglected promoting cycling and walking as alternative forms of transportation.

Carl told the commissioners the plan is not a response to all the controversy surrounding cycling-versus-resident conflicts in the Deer Creek Canyon area.

The commissioners found themselves in a long-running battle between cyclists and residents in the Deer Creek area last summer after several contentious hearings were held on a proposed cycling fund-raising event. The commissioners denied the plan and said at the time they would seek legislation empowering them to regulate cycling on county roads, and in some cases ban it altogether, because of unsafe conditions on narrow canyon roads.

The idea was met with stiff resistance from cycling groups across the state and cycling advocates around the world.

Carl said the news plan has more to do with the lack of a coordinated approach to cycling and pedestrian paths, and the timing is coincidence.

"We've just never really taken the time to specifically identify these areas," Carl said.

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com.