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Changes to Forsyths bike, pedestrian plan will be aired

FORSYTH COUNTY — Forsyth County plans to hold a public hearing, possibly as early as Dec. 3, on proposed changes to the local bicycle and pedestrian plan.

The revised plan, intended to last through 2025, will add new or update existing bike paths, sidewalks and multi-use trails across the county.

The changes were crafted by the county’s engineering department and the Foresite Group firm.  

“Foresite, under the direction of American Engineering, has the completed plan,” said Tim Allen, county assistant director of engineering. “We’ve had several meetings over the last year … with various groups in the county — bicycle riders, interested parties, to come up with a list of projects.”

Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills said the talks were informative.

“I was surprised in our meetings that the bike riders were not more susceptive to my idea of adding more bike lanes,” Mills said. “They said that they felt more in danger having the lane than they did not having the lane, because drivers cut into that lane and don’t watch.”

According to Blake Bredbenner of Foresite, road debris was also an issue with bike lanes.

“What we found was that a lot of bicyclists find that in bike lanes — and shoulders in particular — a lot of debris gathers up there,” he said. “And if they ride in those lanes, they’re going to get [flat tires] a lot.”

In addition to the conversations with stakeholders, Bredbenner said the project used mobile apps to see where, when and how often people were running and cycling.

“Out of our analysis we have identified 43 new projects. To get that, we’ve used a data collection service called STRAVA in order to identify usage of existing facilities,” he said. “They provide us with anonymous user data for all of 2014, which showed us where people walked, ran or bicycled.”