http://almanacnews.com/print/story/print/2013/12/11/woodside-looks-at-ways-to-coax-walking-cycling-to-school


Almanac

News - December 11, 2013

Woodside looks at ways to coax walking, cycling to school

by Dave Boyce

About 8 percent of Woodside Elementary School students walk or ride a bike to school. In a town that likes to see itself as rural, students driven to school are the majority and most vehicles carry just one student, according to a Safe Routes to School audit.

That audit is on the agenda for discussion at the Dec. 10 Town Council meeting, which starts at 7:30 p.m. in Independence Hall.

To encourage walking and cycling to school, the audit makes several recommendations, including: narrowing by 1 foot the width of Woodside Road traffic lanes approaching the school to allow a walkway on the north side of the road; redesigning the Roberts Market parking lot to include a pathway for walking and biking; and considering traffic-calming measures at the intersection of Woodside, Canada and Mountain Home roads, along with better access for pedestrians, equestrians and cyclists.

The council will consider a resolution authorizing the town manager to enter into a contract for a traffic-safety project along Woodside Road approaches to the school, paid for with $215,600 in state and county funding. The project includes narrowing the traffic lanes and adding the north-side walkway.

That safe routes to school are a top priority is not debated, something that cannot be said for other topics in the Town Center Area Plan. This effort-in-progress looks ahead 20 years to consider the Town Center's evolution. Key concerns are traffic congestion and a shortage of parking. After a stormy session in October, the council agreed to take off the table several ideas that arose during earlier brainstorming sessions, including a parking garage and reconfiguring the town's main intersection.

At least two community meetings to discuss the Area Plan are ahead, but first a facilitator must be chosen. A staff report recommends discussing that decision in January. The council did not take up offers from community volunteers to facilitate the discussions and instead made it clear the council intends to retain a professional facilitator.

The council meeting begins with interviews of candidates for openings on the Planning Commission and the Architectural and Site Review Board.

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