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Taking steps toward a bike and walk friendly town

Jason Gallo, Parks and Recreation Department assistant administrator and PaTHs Committee member, said having plans in place for Bethlehem's bicycle and pedestrian network will improve its chances of securing funding.

"We're preparing ourselves to be in a better position that other communities when those grants do fall down the pipe," he said. "It gives us some weight behind our requests."

PaTHs Committee member Kathy McCarthy, who has previously has served on the Planning Board, said in recent years there has been an emphasis on encouraging developers to include elements like sidewalks or recreation paths in their projects, to give the benefit to the town without spending tax dollars.

It's a good thing for the developers too, she added.

"It does seem like they could make this investment in the community, which would make their projects that more attractive," McCarthy said.

Some residents at the meeting wondered if more couldn't be done immediately to improve bicycle use in town.

"It seems the best ways to raise awareness for pedestrians and bicycles is signage," said resident Kevin Donovan. "A lot of drivers are under the impression bicycles and pedestrians shouldn't be on the road."

Town Board Councilman Mark Jordan, who also serves on the PaTHs Committee, said such an idea has merit.

"We definitely have to look at it because it's something we can afford to do and the benefits can be immeasurable," he said.

Jordan has twice been involved in accidents with cars while biking (neither in the Town of Bethlehem).

The PaTHs map and Wednesday's presentation are available to view on the town's Web site, and the committee is accepting suggestion on what other roads should be included in the plan.

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