Leaders work to make Dougherty Co. more bicycle friendly - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Leaders work to make Dougherty more bike friendly

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Dougherty County commissioners heard a plan to help make Albany, Dougherty and parts of Lee County a more walkable and bicycle friendly community.

Not only will it help more people get out and enjoy the fresh air but it will also help provide better and safer access to the transit system schools and downtown.

As part of the states long term transportation plan, leaders discovered the need for a bike and pedestrian plan. Monday a company out of Atlanta presented the findings of a year long study to commissioners which identify needs of pedestrians and bikers including sidewalks, bike lanes, and shared lanes to help provide more options for driving a car.

Anthony Patterson loves riding his bike. "I'm a boy scout and I decided to go for by cycling merit badge," he said.

So every week, he logs dozens of miles. "It will be a good challenge to do fifty miles on a bike," he said.

But he says finding a safe and convenient area to do so can be a challenge at times. For now, he and his mom load up the car and drive 15 minutes to find a safe spot.

Today Dougherty County commissioners heard a plan to help make Dougherty county, Albany and Southern Lee County a more pedestrian and bicycle friendly area. "In these economic times gas is high and people are looking at alternate modes of transportation," said David Hamilton, Deputy Director of Transit.

The plan identifies the needs of pedestrians and cyclists in the area including the need for bike lanes, bike paths and shared lanes. This would not only help improve the quality of life but provide more people with safe and convenient alternatives for driving their vehicles. "I think if we put the lanes in and improve upon the sidewalks we will see more people riding bikes and more people walking," he said.

One of those areas is downtown Albany, "We are looking at sidewalks downtown or shared lanes downtown," he said.

As well as sidewalks and sidewalk improvements near schools and better access to public transit. "One of the things we found was that the access to transit was really important and was in many cases lacking as far as sidewalks and good crossings were concerned," he said.

Leaders say they'd like to see the transit system used more, and providing pedestrian and bike facilities will help reach that goal, and make for a more walkable community.

Now that they have a plan, it will allow them to go out and seek funding from the federal highway administration which will allow them to implement some of those sidewalk, bike and pedestrian improvements.

Officials will now seek funding to help implement the first group of projects which are estimated to cost roughly 30 million dollars.

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