Key bicycle and pedestrian access improvements were an integral part of a $12 transformation of Falmouth’s Route 1 commercial corridor. Courtesy / Town of Falmouth

FALMOUTH — The town has made numerous improvements to improve bicycle and pedestrian access over the past three years.

Now councilors and town staff are wondering if the priorities outlined in a plan adopted in 2016 are still relevant and where residents want to see investments made. To that end, the town is planning a November forum to gather input.

“If we remain committed over the long term, Falmouth will have a fantastic system,” Theo Holtwijk, the town’s director of long-range planning and economic development, said at last week’s council meeting. “The focus is on making inter-connections and filling gaps.”

Holtwijk said until now the town has made improvements as opportunities have arisen. Road projects have meant adding bicycle lanes and/or sidewalks were more practicable, such as a recent $12 million upgrade to Route 1 in Falmouth’s commercial corridor.

“When we know we have road projects, that’s the best opportunity to look at multimodal options,” Holtwijk said Sept. 23. He said pursuing standalone projects is often difficult and expensive, which is why opportunities to better connect key destinations have been pursued.

Not every road in Falmouth will get bike lanes, sidewalks or both, like this one on Route 1,but a 2016 plan is designed to make connections between priority destinations. Courtesy / Town of Falmouth

But both Council Chairwoman Amy Kuhn and Councilor Tommy Johnson said last week they’re more interested in making improvements where they would have the most impact on the highest number of residents.

Kuhn said it makes more sense to her to prioritize sidewalks where there are more residents. “One concern I have is that we seem to have a lot of sidewalks in areas with low-density populations,” she said.

Councilor Jay Trickett agreed, saying while he’s “very interested in implementing this plan, I want it to be done in the most impactful, efficient way possible. I feel we need updated feedback.”

Councilor Hope Cahan also wants to hear whether “we are meeting the true need” and whether “the town is happy with what we’ve already implemented.”

Holtwijk said during public forums held in October 2016 and February 2017, residents showed a lot of enthusiasm for the plan.

They also recognized, however, that there may be a lot of good ideas and suggestions for improvements, but it’s how they fit into the big picture that will most impact whether they get done and in what order, he said.

Town Manager Nathan Poore said there seemed to be a realization among residents that not every road in town would get a sidewalk or bike lane. Even so, he said, with limited resources available, “we’ve already got a lot done in just three years.”

“To date,” Poore said, implementation “has been very successful. How successful it is in the future will depend on this council and the public.”

No date has yet been set for the November public forum, but Poore said it will be well advertised with plenty of notice.

In materials provided to the council last week, Holtwijk said the 2016 Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan was formed when the 2002 Trails Master Plan and the 2003 Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan were merged into one document that’s meant to guide capital improvements, road design and future investment in bike and walking infrastructure over the next 20 years.

“Falmouth in 2035 is a place where walking and bicycling are promoted as safe, convenient, and pleasurable transportation modes for all people and all purposes, and where bicycle-pedestrian network connections to and from key destinations in the community have been (created or) improved,” the plan states.

Holtwijk said there’s been a lot of public buy-in with the plan and “we have a growing constituency that’s interested” in seeing the plan succeed. So far, he said, “it’s been all about trying to make a more connected network.”

Whether other priorities should come into play, Holtwijk said would be up to the council. “We’ll go wherever you want to go,” he said last week.

Comments are not available on this story.