Falmouth forum: Town needs more bike lanes

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FALMOUTH — More than 50 residents came out Monday night to give their thoughts on what a bicycling and pedestrian master plan should include.

Theo Holtwijk, the town’s director of long range planning, told the forum at Lunt Auditorium the purpose of the plan was to get a sense of what improvements needed to be done and where.

“We can’t build sidewalks on every street,” Holtwijk said.

He said the residents’ input would give the town and consultants a “sense of priority” about where improvements were needed.

Based on a survey conducted at the forum, the gender split of the room was about 50-50, and the majority of those who turned out identified as 50-to-60-year-olds.

A majority said they walk and bike to stay healthy and to get out into nature, and indicated they are “interested” in biking, but are not serious riders and remain concerned about bicyclists’ proximity to vehicles on streets.

Most people said they do not consider Town Hall a destination they want to be able to get to by walking or biking, but a large majority said it is very important to be able to bike or walk to the school campus.

Most also indicated they want to see some type of connection between the school campus and Community Park. The two are separated by a railroad track without a crossing.

The Route 1 and Route 100 commercial areas, Falmouth Memorial Library, the Mason-Motz center, and Town Landing also polled as very important or important walking or biking destinations.

The condition of the town’s sidewalks and crosswalks were rated between fair and good, but there was a less favorable view of their extent and connectivity. Most attendees did not have an opinion about the conditions and extent of sidewalks and crosswalks for disabled residents.

Nearly everyone in attendance had favorable views of the conditions and extent of town’s off-road trail facilities, rating them as very good. A majority did not have the same view when it came to bike lanes: there was no consensus on the conditions of bike lanes, but most said the extent of bike lanes in town is poor.

Most wanted to see vehicle travel lanes narrowed to allow the creation of more bike lanes.

Holtwijk said he and the consultants will use this feedback, along with more than 200 responses he has received to an online survey, to formulate the plan.

“We will come back with draft ideas in the fall and ask (the public) for input,”  he said.

A final draft of recommendations will be sent to the Town Council.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.