Paradise Valley pathway master plan moves forward

Coffman President, Jim Coffman speaks with residents during a break-out group at the pathways master plan open house Sept. 14. (photo by Melissa Fittro)

Coffman Studio President, Jim Coffman speaks with residents during a break-out group at the pathways master plan open house Sept. 14. (photo by Melissa Fittro)

Paradise Valley residents converged at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive, for an open house Wednesday, Sept. 14 to have a discussion about the ongoing planning of the pedestrian and bicycle master plan town council is working toward.

During a May 26 meeting, the Paradise Valley Town Council voted 5-1 to authorize a contract for a bicycle and pedestrian master plan with Tempe-based Coffman Studio in the amount not to exceed $143,695.02.

Maria Syms was the dissenting vote, with Mayor Michael Collins absent.

Since the spring vote, the town and Coffman Studio has conducted public meetings, a walk, bike ride and online surveys to better understand what town residents want out of the master plan.

The open house started with a presentation by Coffman Studio President Jim Coffman explaining information gathered thus far, followed by break-out groups to discuss safety, connectivity and routes and wayfinding.

The open house included town representation from Paradise Valley Councilman Paul Dembow, newly elected council member and Planning Commissioner Scott Moore and Phoenix Fire Department employees.

Fueled by the General Plan, the idea is to create a resident-driven diagram of how bicycle and pedestrian traffic can better circulate the municipality, according to Paradise Valley Senior Planner Paul Michaud in an August interview.

Additionally, another big piece of the still-in-development master plan is how the municipality can offer connectivity to already established trailhead pathways in neighboring communities.

“We need to understand where we are today and where does this community want to go,” Mr. Michaud said in an August interview. “At the end of the day this will be an addendum to our General Plan. It is really the public that is going to tell us what we need to do.”

Based upon an online resident survey with over 200 responses, about 75 percent said they bike around town; and at least 90 percent walk.

For walkers, the majority of responses said they walk on sidewalks or along the sides of street or on the street, for general health and exercise, recreation and for dog walking.

For bicycle riding, the majority of responses said they ride their bikes in bike lanes that are marked, paved or signed, and along streets not marked or signed.

Most bicycles ride for general health and leisure, with only 10 percent of responses indicating they are a part of club or group rides.

Resident concerns

Top concerns voiced among residents include safety for both automobile drivers and pedestrians, and balancing the needs of residents and visitors.

“Just to tell you what I’m thinking, I think bicycles are great and we ride bicycles,” said a resident during the open house.

“My concern is that 10 percent group that is the biking club that is creating 80 percent of our problems with these ‘go at it’ gang mentalities and take up half the lane and that’s the battle. Before we can expand these paths we need to control these paths that we have.”

“From a standpoint of just a local resident, enjoying a nice leisurely drive, walk or bicycle without dealing with these biker gangs that are parking at these entrances to Paradise Valley to unload their bikes to ride in these groups and they get all geeked out. That’s the frustration.”

The frustration expressed is one shared among a number of residents, said Mr. Coffman.

“I can tell you now that, we have heard that a lot,” said Mr. Coffman. “That has come up a lot.”

Mr. Coffman said a large part of the problem is riders simply don’t follow Arizona bicycling laws — one of which, is that bicyclists cannot ride more than two abreast.

The town has streets with just a single white stripe along the side, streets with a white line and a bicycle symbol, and streets without any bicycle lane indications.

In addition to locals traveling into Paradise Valley to enjoy the scenic landscape, Resorts such as Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia, and others offer walking, hiking and bicycling maps for their guests.

With the Ritz-Carlton resort being built right down the street from Town Hall, an arrow’s shot away from Scottsdale Road and Lincoln Drive, the problem of unsafely over-crowded streets will only worsen, said Leslie Dornfeld, who plays a role in engagement and integration in the project.

“Short of putting a guard at either end of Lincoln, this problem is going to continue,” she explained during the open house. “You have the Ritz coming, you have Mountain Shadows coming in, you have a whole new development coming in at the Franciscan Renewal Center, where people are going to want to get out and walk. On both sides of your community, the communities are growing. You’re going to have these people in your community.”

The Ritz-Carlton plan will include hundreds of guest rooms, and between 100-200 single family homes and townhouses.

The planners want the community to think long term.

“To be long sided and decide you want to manage it, is really the purpose of the plan,” said Ms. Dornfeld. “It’s not to say ‘lets build bigger, let’s build more, so we can have more,” it’s how do we manage these issue?”

The next open houses are tentatively scheduled to be at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 19 to review draft plan concepts and Dec. 14 to review the draft Master Plan. Both open houses will be at Town Hall.

News Services Editor Melissa Rosequist can be reached by e-mail at mrosequist@newszap.com or follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Mrosequist_

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