Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Developing a Bicycle Master Plan: City of Belmont's Story


In 2011, the N.C. Department of Transportation Bicy­cle and Pedestrian Planning Grant Initiative awarded the City of Belmont a matching grant for the development of a Comprehensive Bicycle Plan. 

The Belmont Comprehensive Bicycle Master Plan combined past plan­ning efforts with newer research and analysis, and included a full public in­put process. A proposed on- and off-street bikeway network is included in the Plan, as well as recommended policies and programs to encour­age more bicycling activity and to promote safe bicycling and driving practices. These combined elements establish a complete, up-to-date framework for moving forward with improvements to the bicycling en­vironment of Belmont. 

Belmont is just over five miles due west of the Charlotte-Douglas Inter­national Airport and less than 15 miles from downtown Charlotte, NC. Interstate 85 passes through the northern portion of Belmont’s city limits and Highway 74 (also Highway 29) provides a parallel east-west connec­tion between Charlotte and Belmont. 

Through progressive city planning and efforts to revitalize downtown Belmont, while still retaining its historic character, the city has retained a high quality of life for its residents. With its political support for quality of life and healthy lifestyles; sup­portive existing street infrastructure and planning policies; planned 
gre­enways and parks; attractive downtown and other tourist destinations, strong bicycling community and college population, and proximity to great biking venues and routes (including the Whitewater Center and the Rock Hill Velodrome, the Carolina Thread Trail, and quiet rural roads), Bel­mont is poised to be one of the premier bicycling destination com­munities in the state and region, joining the ranks of other regional Bicycle Friendly Communities (BFCs) including Davidson, Rock Hill, and Charlotte. 

City of Belmont staff and the Project Steering Committee guided the de­velopment of the Comprehensive Bicycle Master Plan. The committee was made up of citizen advocates and representatives from multiple stake­holder organizations and local groups, including the NCDOT and Bel­mont Planning Commission, among others. The Steering Committee met several times throughout the process and provided guidance on the overall vision, fa­cility recommendations, programs, policies, and draft plan development. The draft plan reflected input from the public, the Project Steering Committee, City staff, NCDOT staff, and the existing conditions analysis before presentation to the City Council. The Belmont Comprehensive Bicycle Master Plan was adopted on May 6, 2013. 

Plan in Action

One immediate positive outcome of the plan – the City was able to use the plan to convince the local NCDOT Highway Division to stripe shared use lanes on Catawba Street when that road will be milled and resurfaced in August.  Belmont Assistant City Manager, Adrian Miller stated “Having the bike plan helped when making this request to reduce the vehicle lane width to accommodate the unofficial bike lanes for this project.”  

In addition, the consultant who prepared the plan, Alta Greenways, informed NCDOT staff that the City (through volunteer labor) has begun building their new mountain biking park, though recreation, this is still a positive outcome. 

Text excerpted from Belmont Comprehensive Bicycle Master Plan, Alta Greenways


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