Bill Hayden is calling for a Monroe County Alternative Transportation and Off-Road Trails Plan that can set the stage for making Monroe County safe and enjoyable for bicycling, provide the quality of life demanded by industries that value a high quality of life for their employees, and reduce conflicts between cyclists and motorists.
"I urge the County Planning Department, County Traffic Commission, County Plan Commission, and County Commissioners and County Highway Department to develop and adopt an Alternative Transportation Plan and that it be part of the County Thoroughfare Plan", Hayden said.
Hayden points out that, "Monroe County is not only a beautiful county in which to tour on a bicycle and take leisurely drives, it can also be a great place to ride a bike to work. However, it also needs to be a lot safer to be enjoyable and County government can take very cost effective steps to make cycling safer as well as eliminate conflicts with automobiles. It is much easier and safer to ride in the city and in the country than it is to ride on narrow roads in the developing fringe area around the city that have become major arterials and were not designed for high-speed automobiles. This is the highest priority that needs to be addressed. The best solution in these areas is to provide off road trails so that cyclists and motorists do not have to compete for these narrow county roads that are now expected to carry urban levels of traffic. Every opportunity to preserve opportunities for off road trails should be taken."
Hayden also pointed out that "the County needs a plan to address this problem if it is to protect remaining opportunities such as abandoned rail lines and to qualify for grants from the Indiana Department of Transportation. The Plan also needs to identify those roads that are needed by cyclists to get into the country and provide wider shoulders for cyclists so that they can stay out of the road and reduce conflicts with cars and trucks. This is especially critical on hills.
"It is common to hear economic development gurus complain that Indiana cannot hold on to its college graduates. Well there are good reasons for this and they aren't very difficult to find out or understand. How many IU graduates have moved to Portland, Oregon in recent years? While it is close to the Pacific Ocean and the Cascade Mountains, it also has provided the necessary infrastructure for a healthy lifestyle. It is famous for its cycling infrastructure. Indiana and Monroe County needs to at least start laying the groundwork," Hayden added.
The City of Bloomington has led the way with its Alternative Transportation and Greenways Plan but it stops at the City's limits. Now the County needs to build on that and challenge the City to do even better by providing more and safer links to the countryside.