- The city’s cycle network enables bicycle riders to access major destinations in the city via safe, comfortable, right-sized bicycle infrastructure.
- The city’s cycling network is viable as a selling point for workforce development, corporate recruitment, and recreational tourism.
- Bicycle commuting to major employment centers like Redstone Arsenal, Cummings Research Park, and Downtown is safe, effective and heavily-used.
A complete and well-linked bicycle network has value on several fronts. While automobile use is expected to dominate regional travel for the foreseeable future, interest in – and demand for – cycling options has been on the rise. A recent example is the popularity of the PACE bike share network in Downtown Huntsville. By recognizing and accommodating this demand, some pressure can be taken off the traffic network, whether through alternative commuting or simply the reduction in local auto trips.
An overly auto-dependent network can have negative impacts on those who are unable to drive, or have become less comfortable doing so. At one end of the spectrum are children. While many of us might remember being able to bike all over our neighborhoods as kids, the past several decades have seen street networks created which have the practical effect of trapping young cyclists within their neighborhoods. By making safer connections, particularly outside of busy rights-of-way, children can regain the freedom that previous generations had – to ride to a friend’s house, to the park, to school, to practice… or simply to get the physical activity that comes from bike riding. Such independence brings health benefits as well.
These health benefits may be extended to our older residents too. Being physically active can have a marked and positive effect on seniors as they age. Providing safe and sustainable opportunities – like sidewalks, greenways and bike paths – can not only help to maintain good health among our aging population, but can also assist in maintaining self-reliance and a sense of independence. As some seniors get less comfortable driving, it is important to offer alternatives for navigating their community.
Finally, the embrace of bike-supportive infrastructure acknowledges that the new workforce has an expressed interest in cities that have well-developed cycling networks. Companies that are looking for younger talent know that quality-of-life investments – including recreational and alternative amenities like bicycle accommodations – are invaluable to attracting new talent. For example, a large part of the Master Plan Update for Cummings Research Park is the design and implementation of a bike network within and beyond the Park environs. The private sector has recognized the need, and has advocated for the inclusion of cycling infrastructure in planning.
Update the City of Huntsville Bike Plan every three years, and coordinate with the MPO to ensure regional connectivity.
Plan for cycling infrastructure that is destination-based, not route-based. Not every street segment should get bike facilities, but cyclists should have routes that get them where they want to go, even if they are not along the primary auto connections.
Coordinate capital road improvements with bicycle planning efforts to identify opportunities for lane installation.