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Taking steps toward a bike and walk friendly town

PaTHs Committee prepares map and project evaluation rubric

Walkers and bikers in the Town of Bethlehem are one step (or pedal) closer to seeing the town become a more friendly environment for non-motorized traffic in the creation of a network map and project evaluation process created by the town's PaTHs Committee.

The developments were presented to the public at a Wednesday, Oct. 6, meeting. The PaTHs Committee (Pathways to Homes, Hamlets and Healthy Hearts), was formed in March of 2009 with the goal of addressing bicycle and pedestrian mobility in the Town of Bethlehem, and a big part of that puzzle has been assessing the town's current resources and how they can be improved.

That task has taken a big step forward with the recent creation of a Bicycle and Pedestrian Priority Network Map, which identifies the routes in town that are most important to bicycle and pedestrian traffic. The committee mapped out important destinations such as parks, schools, commercial spaces and community gathering places and identified how residents near those features might best get to them on foot or bike.

With this network established, the town can now examine what needs to be done on these pathways (be it installing signage, creating bike lanes or establishing crosswalks) and decide how much can feasibly be done given cost constraints.

That's where the committee's cost/benefit matrix comes in, which would compare a potential service's overall benefit said town Senior Planner Robert Leslie.

It's really a process that's going to be used internal to town staff, he said.

The map and project evaluation system will likely be brought before the Town Board for approval later this year.

The committee also recommended searching for grants, but those are in short supply right now. A prime example is Albany County's Rail Trail, which runs through Bethlehem and has been hung up searching for construction money since the county purchased the land in March of 2009.

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