Bike and pedestrian master plan expected to be complete by July

Engineering firm Jones and Carter has been working on a bike and pedestrian master plan for The Woodlands Township since October and will finish it by July.

The firm will solicit public input throughout the process. Survey results were presented to the township’s ad hoc transportation committee Jan. 12 and will be presented to the township board of directors Jan. 27.

The plan could offer safety and public awareness recommendations, said David Hitchcock, a member of Bike The Woodlands Coalition, a bicycling advocacy group in The Woodlands.

“There are safety issues that are particularly important,” he said. “Crossing at intersections is a big thing. The [new] intersection improvements speed up cars going through intersections. When they improve a right turn, the car is allowed to speed up, so there’s some risk at that location.”

John Powers, assistant general manager of community services for the township, said there are a number of goals and objectives defined for the outcome of the plan. Objectives include providing a safe and convenient means for people to walk, run or ride their bikes; providing an interconnected, comprehensive pedestrian and bicycle network; and increasing opportunities for walking, running and biking while not compromising motorized traffic on area roads.

Heightening community awareness on the roadways related to cycling is another issue Hitchcock expects to be addressed in the plan. The Woodlands was ideally designed to become more bicycle-friendly since its design 40 years ago, he said.

Tiffany Perl is a member of the BTWC and part of the BTWC steering committee.

“I run and bike our pathways and am not considered an elite cyclist but simply a person who rides a bike,” she said. “Oftentimes, I choose not to ride due to the lack of existing and maintained shoulders [and] bike lanes or issues with pathway connectivity. I would like to ride my bike, whether it’s to the grocery store, a local business, a concert or just for exercise, and know there are safe, viable options to get from point A to point B.”

She said Jones and Carter’s efforts to gather public input ensure widespread opinions from the community will be considered.

“I enjoy living in The Woodlands and am thankful for the amenities currently offered,” she said. “But I feel it’s time to deal with the topic of bicycling [and] pedestrian infrastructure, especially with Jones and Carter’s valuable efforts in full swing.”

A bike-friendly community will attract a vibrant workforce and promote health and happiness, she said.

“There’s an anti-bike sentiment in The Woodlands, as there is in every city,” Hitchcock said. “There’s always been conflict since we switched from wagons to cars, with the worry that people are taking away roadway space.”