Let it ride

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Staff Writer

COEUR d'ALENE — Additional input will be sought and included in a plan that seeks to give the city of Coeur d'Alene a guide for pedestrian and bicycle trails over the next five years.

The recently updated Trails and Bikeways Master Plan, originally adopted in 2010, was supposed to be voted on by the Coeur d'Alene City Council during this week's regular meeting. However, according to Deputy City Administrator Sam Taylor, the item was removed from the agenda to allow newer members of the Pedestrian and Bicycle Committee to weigh in on the document prior to its adoption. 

"This means we will also seek additional public feedback so the community can have a say about those new ideas," Taylor added.

City Engineer Chris Bosley, who was previously the chair of the city's Pedestrian and Bicycle Committee, told The Press two major additions to the master plan were the inclusion of mountain biking trails and "water trails," or pathways in the lake commonly used by kayakers and stand up paddleboarders.

In the seven years since the original master plan was created, Bosley said traffic patterns have changed, new streets have popped up, and some roads have become more popular for use by cyclists and pedestrians. The updated plan, Bosley said, speaks to those developments in Coeur d'Alene and gives recommendations for further connectivity — the concept of pathways used by pedestrians and cyclists being better connected to encourage use.

Bike lane improvements, such as installing bike lanes from Best Avenue south across Interstate 90 to Hattie Avenue, are included in the updated plan. There are also recommendations to extend bike lanes in certain areas of the city, including on 15th Street.

Adding more bike boulevards, which Bosley described as a non-thoroughfare road with low traffic volume and speeds that can be shared equally by motorists and cyclists, are also mentioned. The city, he added, has already created a bike boulevard on Young Avenue from Eighth Street to 19th Street by adding signage showing popular bike paths in the city and additional striping on the road itself that speaks to the road being used by cyclists and motorists.

John Kelly, the president of Bike CDA who had previously raised concerns with the plan, told The Press Thursday he was grateful city officials are allowing for more time before the document is adopted. He added he hopes the time will be used to "learn from mistakes of our past" and "bring Coeur d'Alene into the 21st century of transportation."

"I hope that he (Mayor Steve Widmyer) would consider creating a steering committee made up primarily of citizens who have a keen interest and understanding of how our transportation system can impact the future of Coeur d’Alene’s economy, public health, climate and environment, and public safety," Kelly said. "Once it's created, they can begin to evaluate this process and make recommendations on how we move forward as a community."

Adoption of the plan, according to Trails Coordinator Monte McCully, does not require the city to allocate funds for recommended additions of bike lanes and trails in the city. McCully said when a potential project is pursued, it is funded by applying for grants, or requesting funding approval from the city council.

A complete copy of the updated plan in its current form can be found at http://bit.ly/2j8B6NJ.

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