Paradise Valley Town Council offers new approach to bicycle master plan

It was a full board room at Paradise Valley Town Hall Thursday, June 8 as residents came to learn more about how new bicycle routes will play a role within town limits. (Terrance Thornton/Independent Newsmedia)

The Paradise Valley Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan was no match for a quiet afternoon, Mayor Michael Collins and a set of colored markers.

Mayor Collins Thursday, June 8 presented an abridged version of the proposed bicycle and pedestrian master plan at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive. It appears Councilman Scott Moore and Vice Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner also helped in devising a new approach to avid cycling within town limits.

Town leaders are expected to vote on a Statement of Direction to outline design guidelines for the Paradise Valley Planning Commission to evaluate the proposed Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan at its June 22 meeting.

In August 2016, Paradise Valley Town Council authorized a contract with Coffman Studio at a rate of $143,695.02 for the development of a bicycle and pedestrian master plan. The motion carried 5-1, with then Councilwoman Maria Syms dissenting, and Mayor Michael Collins absent.

Since that time a tremendous amount of resident feedback has been received at Town Hall — both negative and positive — regarding how the local municipality can better accentuate the avid cyclist experience along with an effort to belay concerns of residents who allege certain groups whip through affluent thoroughfares.
The plan itself will ultimately become a General Plan amendment, town officials say.

Since contracted work has commenced on the bicycle and master plan, efforts have included: making contact with residents; hosting seven open houses; the completion of three digital surveys; and the hosting of two town events.

While resident input includes wanting emphasized pedestrian facilities, the most popular complaint amongst residents is outside competitive bicyclists who train within the neighborhoods of Paradise Valley.
Paradise Valley resident Brent Donaldson vehemently denies the claims received at Town Hall regarding resident concerns surrounding avid cyclists.

“Somehow the fallacious claims of a shrill few regarding the presence of cyclists on public streets have been conflated to the bike plan paid for by the city,” he wrote in a June 8 commentary to the Town of Paradise Valley Independent. “These voices should be ignored or, if given any voice, be left to be seen for the shrills that they are.”

Mr. Donaldson says roads and streets are for all who want to be there — not just folks driving automobiles.

“These cyclists are traveling as fast as any car. Consequently, according to Arizona traffic law, the cyclists can legally take the entire lane,” he said of complaints rendered at Town Hall regarding Hummingbird Lane. “Other cyclists also go fast down Hummingbird lane but not in large groups. Regardless, cyclists are permitted to ride on Hummingbird Lane, it is a public street.”

The proposed plan devised by town staff and Coffman Studio included:

  • In-Street: bicycle and motor vehicles share the roadway, with no designation or signage for bicycles;
  • Bike Route: distinguished by vertical signs or lane markings, reduced motor vehicle speed, and no bike lanes;
  • Shared-Use Path: for non-motorized users, may be striped, off-street paved path;
  • Buffered/Separated Bike Lane: pavement markings or specialty paving creating a buffer, distinguished by signage and/or pavement markings.

However, portions of the proposed plan devised by town staff and outside consultants did not fall in-step with provisions outlined in the 2012 General Plan update, which is widely regarded as a keystone document for the community.

Much of the General Plan, Mayor Collins says, is to not encourage cut-through traffic, motorized or non-motorized. Largely, Mayor Collin’s bicycle plan iteration has one major contemplation: a resort loop that can be used by both pedestrians and avid cyclists.

Furthermore, the Collins plan does not encourage regional interconnectivity because he believes the General Plan calls for support of internal connectivity and support of cycling, but not necessarily a cut-through between Phoenix and Scottsdale.

Mayor Collins envisions a plan where bike lanes are formed east and west along Doubletree Ranch Road within town limits and a north and south route that would extend from Mountain View to Chaparral roads.

Also, it appears Mayor Collins envisions a series of roundabouts to naturally calm traffic as transitions between roadways when making the east and west journey across Doubletree or the north-and-south jaunt from Mountain View to Chaparral roads.

A unifying voice

Paradise Valley Senior Planner Paul Michaud presented the hybrid approach to the proposed bike and pedestrian plan providing the full council boardroom an update on the municipal planning saga.
“Most of the study is based on non-local roads — there are several areas where we don’t have any sidewalks,”

Mr. Michaud said of an overarching theme of the consultant study.

Members of Paradise Valley Town Council lauded both the efforts of town staff and Coffman Studios for being able to bring a better understanding of an underlying issue withing town limits.

Michael Collins

“This has been a long journey, I think it was a journey that started in 2011 with the update of the General Plan,” Mayor Collins said following the staff presentation. “I think there has been a great deal of discussion and brainstorming of what is appropriate throughout the Town of Paradise Valley. I have been waiting because I wanted to see where everything was going to land.”

Mayor Collins explained to those in attendance some of the tenets of the General Plan that talk specifically to the desire of traffic flow by local residents.

“Cut-through traffic is not the kind of traffic we are trying to encourage,” he pointed out of proposed plans for up-rooting both McDonald Drive and Tatum Boulevard to create a regional system connection.

“Neither solution seemed to be appropriate for the Town of Paradise Valley. I didn’t see a lot of need for the connectivity between Scottsdale and Phoenix. This plan keeps the lanes on flat lands and on non-high traffic areas.”

Both Vice Mayor Bien-Willner and Councilman Moore lauded the approach drawn by Mayor Collins.

“We have received a lot of communication on this topic,” Councilman Moore said at the June 8 work session discussion. “I think we really focused hard on something we could start with and implement — and it’s financially feasible to move forward with. It’s just to start something that everyone can get behind.”

Vice Mayor Bien-Willner says he believes the proposed plan devised by Mayor Collins is a step in the right direction.

“I think this is the right thing to do for our town,” he said at the June 8 meeting. “This is really a question of what the vision of the town is. I think this strikes a really good balance.”

Both Julie Pace and Mark Stanton, members of Paradise Valley Town Council, say safety needs to be the No. 1 priority when determining plans for both motorized and non-motorized traffic flow.

“I feel like we have gaps in safety in a lot of the things we do,” Councilwoman Pace said during the work session discussion. “I think this looks like a great start. I think we are hitting all the right points — I would like to see a chapter on safety.”

Councilman Stanton echoed a similar sentiment.

“I agree that public safety has to be the No. 1 priority in all things that we do,” he said during the work session discussion. “This pendulum has swung … I think we are getting to a good spot. I thing the resort loop is the best place to make some accommodations for patrons.”

Northeast Valley Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at tthornton@newszap.com

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