Online survey allows area residents to influence region’s non-motorized transportation plans

How often do you use the paved trails of the Bay City area? What about bike lanes? Do you use them at all? If not, what’s preventing you?

When it comes to non-motorized transportation infrastructure, what does the region need more of? Better sidewalks? More lighting?

These are the questions, among many others, posed to area residents by the Bay City Area Transportation Study. The organization is currently updating its Non-Motorized Transportation Plan.

Non-motorized transportation includes walking, bicycling, kayaking, and more.

Last updated in 2011, the BCATS Non-Motorized Transportation Plan helps to influence what gets built. The 2011 plan, for instance, included since-completed projects involving the Saginaw Bay Blueways Trail and the Bay-Zil Rail Trail.

“Where can we fill in the gaps? What’s missing or do we just need to perform maintenance with what’s already there?” asks Jay Anderson, director of BCATS and the Bay County Transportation Planning/GIS manager.

“If one of our partners in the region goes for a grant, having that project in our plan improves their grant-scoring within the state. Having that within the plan can help light a fire and move those projects forward, even if the money isn’t there when the project is first identified in the plan.”

Railtrail begins near Hotchkiss Road.Residents have until Dec. 7 to fill out the survey. A draft of the plan will then be presented for additional public comment in 2021.

Gathering public input is an integral part of the process, says Anderson, allowing the organization to better understand what’s important to area residents and what they would like to see. The online survey is especially important given the coronavirus-related social-distancing protocols of the day.

The survey has been open for several weeks now, though Anderson says that it’s too early to identify specific projects that might come out of it. He does hint, however, that there has been a lot of interest in better bicycle facilities involving on-the-road bike lanes.

“This is a chance to take inventory of what we have and what are some new things that people want to see,” Anderson says.

Visit the Bay City Area Transportation Study Non-Motorized Survey online to participate.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.