Connellsville considers path to encourage bicyclists, walkers
By Mark Hofmann
Published: Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, 9:30 p.m.
The public gave input Wednesday on how Connellsville could become more bicyclist- and walker-friendly.
“We see a lot of potential,” said Stephen Patchan of consulting firm Aspect Planning, which held the first public meeting in Connellsville City Hall.
Patchan, a former Connellsville resident, approached council earlier this year and offered to create the plan for free.
“This is community-driven process,” Patchan said.
He said Connellsville can be considered the first stop along the Great Allegheny Passage for those going from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C., or the last stop for those riding from Washington D.C. to Pittsburgh.
Residents attending the meeting questioned the source of money for projects.
One of the bicyclist-friendly suggestions included blocking off sides of a roadway to make way for a bicycle-only lane.
Patchan said federal funding is in place if Connellsville would want painted lanes or emblems for bicyclists. The city can continue to receive funding on a regular basis to repaint the roadways.
He said some streets are wide enough for a bicycle-only lane and other streets are too narrow for it, but nothing is set in stone. The city could use both options on different streets.
“We're looking where you can and cannot do things,” said Jason Kambitsis of Aspect Planning. He said all the streets' widths were measured. The findings will be released at a later date.
The major issue that can't be addressed with paint or the roadway studies is the mind-set of motorists in the city — many of which don't want to share the road with pedestrians or bicyclists.
“I see a lot we can do with this,” said Connellsville Mayor Charles Matthews, saying he feels positive about the project. “But we need to sell this to the community.”
Connellsville Treasurer Judy Keller said she has seen people from other states coming into Connellsville from the bike trail. She said having a bicylist-friendly town can make the city boom.
“We need to make things more hospitable to them,” Keller said.
The input from the meeting, as well as other future public meetings, will be analyzed for projects. From there, the plan would be refined and presented for formal adoption to council.
“We like to have a draft plan for council sometime in the spring,” Kambitsis said.
Mark Hofmann is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-626-3539 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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