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Article Published January 10, 2018
Madison Plans to Form Bike and Pedestrian Group to Improve Safety and Facilities
Jenn McCulloch, Correspondent

For Madison’s bicyclists and walkers, is there room to share the road—or the sidewalk? What steps, if any, should the town take to cater to residents who’d rather pedal or tread than punch the gas? Those questions will find their lane later this month.

The Town of Madison is in the process of forming an advisory committee focused on bike and pedestrian safety, which is a recommendation of the Town Plan of Conservation and Development. Dave Anderson, the town planner, is the staff liaison for the committee and he is working closely with Virginia Raff, the town’s representative for the Shoreline Greenway Trail.

“We’re taking advantage of the conversations taking place around the Shoreline Greenway Trail and using it to step back and take a broader look at what bike and pedestrian needs are and how the greenway trail might fit into it,” said Anderson. “The goal is to develop a bike and pedestrian master plan, focusing most specifically on infrastructure, such as where bike lanes or sidewalks might be needed, and to adopt a plan to set a path forward and provide an ongoing funding mechanism in the budget to maintain and expand these facilities.”

At this point, Anderson and Raff are gathering names of people who may be interested in serving on the committee. A list of names will be presented to the Board of Selectmen at the meeting on Monday, Jan. 22. Those interested in joining the committee or volunteering to help along the way can contact Anderson at andersond@madisonct.org.

“We want to encourage people to participate in any way, whether it’s coming to meetings or helping with tasks,” said Anderson.

Once the committee is formed, it has two years to create and present a plan, according to the town charter, though Anderson is hoping the full two years will not be needed. After the committee is named, the plan is to host a meeting with speakers who have completed similar projects as well as reach out to the community for public input.

“We want to find out where the gaps are, what needs to be updated or repaired, and where people wish we had accommodations,” said Anderson. “There will be a large focus on public outreach in the beginning.”

Anderson, who is also a cyclist, noted that Guilford is working on a similar plan and his hope is that the towns can work together and share ideas and resources. He has seen a growing need for more resources with the increase in programs like the Madison Bike Share Program run by VISTA that offers bike rentals at various shops and inns throughout town for residents and visitors during the summer months.

“The program offers a cool opportunity for people visiting town to rent a bike and enjoy town, riding around by the beach and downtown,” said Anderson. “It’s important to my position to facilitate this type of effort. Connecting points for people to get downtown by bike or be able to safely walk to school is the primary driver.”

While most of the focus at this time is on the on-road accommodations for both cyclists and pedestrians, Anderson is hoping that down the road, the committee will also oversee trail development for hiking, walking, and mountain biking as well. He notes that while many people think of visiting Madison for its beaches, the town also has 50 miles of hiking trails and 25 miles of mountain bike single track trails, too.

“I’m trying to make people aware about all of the different recreational amenities we have to offer in Madison,” said Anderson. “The goal is to promote better biking and walking facilities throughout town and add to what Madison has to offer and make it more attractive for people visiting at different points of the year.”