Plans to implement a new biking and pedestrian program next year will increase the number of sidewalks and create more bike-to-school days in Whitewater.
Whitewater Parks and Recreation Director Matt Amundson said the goal is to make Whitewater a safer community for bike riders and walking pedestrians.
“It’s a safe and healthy plan for the city of Whitewater,” Amundson said. “The biggest part is to encourage people to walk or bike more in the community.”
The Whitewater Parks and Recreation Department received a grant from the Department of Transportation last November to fund the program. They will be holding a public meeting in the fall to go over several issues.
“We will be taking a look at all the problem areas in the community where people have identified walking obstructions,” Amundson said.
Students will be able to get involved and provide feedback at the public meeting.
“The planning process is in the early stages and we will be holding a public meeting in the fall for students to raise suggestions and comments,” lead consultant Ann Freiwald said.
Freiwald has experience working with 25 communities across the Midwest creating and executing safe bike and pedestrian plans.
“Economically, I think it’s a great investment to make Whitewater more biking and walking friendly because it will make the community more attractive for the future,” Freiwald said.
According to Amundson, Madison is a community that has fueled much success from its biking pedestrian plan.
“Madison is way ahead of [Whitewater] in what they have implemented into their community,” Amundson said. “They have added several different things including more bike lane combinations and a bike rental program.”
While gas prices will continue to rise, Friewald said the use of alternative transportation would as well.
“When the gas prices spiked in 2008 to about $4 a gallon, the use in bikes skyrocketed while the use in driving vehicles dropped considerably,” Freiwald said. “When the next high gas price increase hits, I feel more people will get to that point where they decide to bike or walk for shorter trips.”
Freiwald said she hopes this plan will help decrease the amount of short drives in Whitewater.
“Forty percent of road trips in this country are short one to two mile drives,” Friewald said. “If we can get some of those short trips of the roads by using the bike or pedestrian walking program, it will create a healthier community.”