Alta Planning and Design has created over 100 active transportation plans for communities across the state and is presently working on the City of Turlock’s first plan with the vision of creating “a seamless walking and bicycling network” in the town.
Active transportation plans are aimed at making cities more accessible for cyclists and pedestrian activities, but they can vary based on the needs of each community.
“It’s not cookie cutter,” said associate John Lieswyn of Alta Planning. “Each community is very much different.”
The plan is not necessarily aimed at creating new roads as much as utilizing the present layout of the town to make it more bike and pedestrian friendly. Alta Planning and Design has conducted several surveys and “Safe Routes to School” audits to diagnose the public’s receptiveness to the project and areas for improvement in Turlock.
The City of Turlock is seeking public input on the recently produced drafts of the Turlock Active Transportation Plan map and will be hosting a community workshop concurrent with the Parks, Arts, and Recreation Commission January meeting. In an effort to include public involvement, the City and Alta are currently searching for a location or small scale project at which they could host a ribbon cutting ceremony to launch the new plan with excitement.
“We don’t want this to be a dusty old piece of paper sitting on the shelf. We want it to be a tool to be used,” said Lieswyn.
While there is no doubt that increasing residents’ ability to get around town in a healthier and more environmentally friendly way is good for the public, so why is the city pursuing the plan now?
“It comes down to funding,” said Lieswyn.
In September 2013 the statewide Active Transportation Plan was signed by Governor Jerry Brown to “encourage increased use of active modes of transportation” by making it safer for those traveling and to enhance public health, among other benefits. The Bicycle Transportation Account is an annual program that provides state funds for city and county projects that meet these goals.
Upon the completion of the public review period of the Turlock Active Plan, the City of Turlock will consider which grants to apply for and how much will be needed of capital facilities funding. Local residents may eventually contribute towards maintenance in future years but it would come from an existing maintenance budgets.
Those interested in finding out more about the Turlock Active Transportation Plan can attend the Parks, Arts, and Recreation Commission meeting at 6 p.m. Jan. 14 in the Yosemite Room at Turlock City Hall. The launch of the Turlock Active Transportation Plan is slated for spring 2015.