New resident seeking commitment from city regarding cycling issues

Published 8:13 pm Tuesday, May 29, 2018

A Washington resident wants the city to make a significant commitment to upgrading the safety and comfort levels of the city’s bicycle and pedestrian community.

Betsy Kane, who moved to Washington about two months ago, worked as a bicycle and pedestrian planner for the N.C. Department of Transportation. She was a project manager in the bicycle and pedestrian planning grant program. She also served on the Raleigh Planning Commission.

“When I moved here — I’m a city planner in my daily life, and I’ve been to probably a third of the counties in this state and dozens of small towns that I helped with strategic planning, downtown revitalization and transportation planning,” Kane told the City Council during its May 24 meeting. “When I moved here, I looked very carefully, probably more than most people because I am a planner, at what the city’s public commitment is to its well being, where it puts its money and commitments. When I saw that there were full-time people staffing the harbor improvements, that the downtown investment has been really significant and committed, that streetscape improvements are being done or have been done, that the library is a priority for municipal funds, I thought this is a safe place where I can invest, buy a home and live here and really commit myself to the city.”

Kane said she is thankful for those commitments by the city.

“One thing that I didn’t see — a line item in particular — and I may have missed it or it may have been folded in to other line items, I didn’t see anything for bicycle and pedestrian improvements in particular. I just wanted to say, and I know it’s too late for this budget cycle, but I’d love to see in the next year’s budget an allocation for those types of improvements,” Kane said. “As I live here in town, I ride my bike. I’m a very dedicated pedestrian. I see lots of other people doing the same thing, be they visitors, retired people who have come here for the lifestyle or, most especially, and what I’m noticing more than anything else, is people using bicycles for utility purposes and going to work or running their errands on bikes that aren’t particularly costly, but are obviously essential to their transportation needs.”

Kane said she’s willing to work with the city when it comes to addressing pedestrian and bicycle matters, including related planning issues.

City Manager Bobby Roberson told Kane the city has a master plan that addresses pedestrian-related matters, a plan developed through the city’s Recreation Advisory Committee. Roberson invited Kane to attend the committee’s next meeting, when he will talk about bicycling issues in the city. The meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. June 18.

In December 2016, the city implemented a new pedestrian plan with a bicycle component.

The plan includes 43 projects that would be implemented in phases as funding for them becomes available and the city chooses to proceed with them. Among the 43 projects are 27 sidewalk additions throughout the city. The plan also includes 15 crosswalk improvements and one shared-use path (bicycles and pedestrians).

The plan’s summary states, “Washington’s vision is to develop a pedestrian friendly environment that connects neighborhoods, parks, shopping, and employment destinations, while attracting new residents and businesses with the beautiful natural settings in which these walkway facilities are located.”
The plan also notes: “The City should consider allocating resources on an annual basis to establish and maintain a pedestrian network, maintain existing facilities, and fund programs and on-going activities directed towards encouragement, enforcement, and education. The allocation of City funding for pedestrian facilities will be an ongoing need.”


About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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