City announces bicycle/pedestrian master plan

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 Plan includes a Northwestern State University collaboration & bikeshare system feasibility and implementation study

The City of Natchitoches hired the Rapids Area Planning Commission (RAPC) in partnership with Bantam Strategy Group, two experienced planning agencies, to create a city-wide Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plan which will include a Bikeshare Feasibility and

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Implementation Plan serving the City of Natchitoches and Northwestern State University. Bicycle and pedestrian efforts are advancing in mid-size and small cities across the country, offering another transportation option as some people opt to pedal as a healthier alternative. RAPC and Bantam Strategy Group will be working through an eight-to-10 month process which includes several layers to complete this plan. Some of the goals of the plan are to capture non-motorized vehicle needs and set goals for the urbanized area, reduce bike/pedestrian related crashes and encourage safety education, promote the use of alternative transportation modes and equity and develop a strategy for branding the bike/pedestrian network.

“It is important to the City of Natchitoches and Northwestern State University that this is a unified, city-wide plan that can be implemented and ultimately enhances our community. Most recently, through the State’s construction project of LA Hwy 478, the City requested bicycle lane signs be implemented on this highway. Since implementation these bicycle lanes have been utilized by our local Bike Natchitoches group as well as others visiting the area,” said Mayor Lee Posey. “RAPC has experience with creating foundationally solid bike/ped networks and as a forethought positioning these projects to be eligible for public and private funding.”

Additionally, Bantam Strategy Group will be evaluating the feasibility of a bikeshare system which includes a demand analysis, exploring the various bikeshare business models available and outlining a practicable system business pro-forma. Some of these efforts include a website with interactive mapping, community outreach meetings and several layers of GIS analysis to determine the fleet size and service area. To learn more about the bikeshare portion of this study visit www.natchitochesbikeshare.com and follow the Natchitoches Bikeshare Facebook page.

“Connecting people regardless of socio-economic status to places and communities in Natchitoches with an accessible and sustainable alternative transportation network is the ultimate mission,” said Lindsey G. West, President and CEO of Bantam Strategy Group. “Bikeshare is a tool in the transportation ‘toolkit.’ We are excited to partner with RAPC, the City, the University and other local partners to enhance the way residents, students and visitors move and explore this community.”

RAPC secured safety funding from the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) for the development of this plan with the municipality providing some local funding for the completion of the study to include bikeshare.