Grand Island unveils plan to make community more bike and pedestrian friendly

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Grand island maps a path to the future that's more bike and pedestrian friendly, as the city unveils a master plan that outlines possible improvements

As the city has grown into a metropolitan community, it has grown with cars in mind.

Allan Zafft, the program manager for the Metropolitan Planning Organization inside the public works department at city hall has been studying transportation in the community.

He said, “ I would say we're auto-centric community. In regards to bike / pedestrian, I would say we're more trail community. I think that's normal for communities in central Nebraska.”

Compared against Midwest cities like Fargo, ND, Sioux Falls, SD, Cedar Rapids, IA and even Kearney, Grand Island falls short when it comes to those who walk or bike to work.

Steven Beed is among only a few dozen people who bike to work.

“Right now I'm going to work at Super Saver at Five Points,” he said as he traveled on his bike.

It’s almost easier to find French speaking tourist on a bike than someone who commutes that way.

Like most who bike in Grand Island, a couple from Quebec, Canada does so for recreation.

“You have a very nice bike trail,” Regis Laflamme said, as he traveled with Denise Au Riuox.

The city would like to expand that trail system with federal funds, and the first step is a master plan that’s being finalized now.

Zafft said, “It's a blueprint for the next 20-30 years. Just helps guide the region in terms of making investments.”

The plan outlines a number of projects that could be done.

“Master plan looks at potential improvements like overpasses and so forth to get over major barriers like railroads, major highways such as 281,” Zafft said.

And just as the city is trying to improve ridership on public transportation, they also want to improve numbers of people who walk and bike to work and school.

They say it’s good for quality of life, and walkability is a trait many look for in a neighborhood.

“A big interest for younger generation, keep folks living here in Grand Island, keep them in Grand Island,” Zafft said.

They want to make the city more bike friendly, for those like Steven who rides to work and to the store.

“Run up to Walgreens every now and then,” Beed said.

And those from home and abroad using foot power for fun.

“The people in USA is very nice people,” Denise Au Rioux said from atop her bike.

The study cost about $80,000, and 80% of the cost was covered by federal funds.

The study is a draft, and public input is currently being accepted, as they hope to make Grand Island more bike and pedestrian friendly.

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