City Commission Begins to Clear Path for Cyclists
By Giulia Marisco
The first phase of a plan to give people who use bicycles as a mode of transportation a clear path through areas of downtown, Florida State and Florida A&M universities, received the green light from Tallahassee city commissioners.
The commission took the first step to make the Downtown-University Protected Bicycle Lane Pilot Project a reality during its meeting last Wednesday at City Hall.
As part of a continuing study on the project, the Resurfacing Coordination Program, staff from the Planning Department, Public Works and other utilities departments are teaming up to identify opportunities on how to incorporate bicycle improvements into the resurfacing project. The main focus is on roadways with higher speeds and high traffic, which make biking less safe and comfortable.
Before the vote, Megan Doherty from the Leon County Planning Department explained the advantages of a multi-modal transportation district. She used a map of Tallahassee projected on the wall as part of her presentation, highlighting the first phase of the bike-lane network.
“Most of the destinations where people want to go are usually within a one-mile radius,” Doherty said. “This will make it easier so people don’t have to drive and can feel safe.”
A second phase of the planned five-mile bicycle route still has to be approved. When it’s implemented, bicyclists will have a designated path through downtown, Cascade Park, FSU, FAMU and Stadium Trail.
“We are a city that is increasingly becoming multi-modal and it’s efforts like this that make it much easier for us to navigate our roads,” Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum said.
Tallahassee was awarded a Bronze Bicycle Friendly Community designation by the League of American Bicyclists in 2009 and 2013, according to the organization, Bike Tallahassee. The city commission has since concentrated on achieving a gold BFC designation by making Tallahassee an easy, safe and fun way to get around by bike.
“I believe Tallahassee can get to that gold level with the approval of this project,” said Doherty.
Commissioner Gil Ziffer also recognizes the demand for a bicycle-safe community and is committed to making roads safer and easier to navigate for cyclists.
“It’s time that we consider the students, young people,” Ziffer said. “Any age group – really – that wants to have the safety by having this designated bike lane.”