Fishers begins long range planning for pedestrian and bike trails
By Ann Craig-Cinnamon
What do you think the Town of Fishers will look like in the year 2040? That may seem rather far into the future, but town planners have embarked on a project which maps out pedestrian and bike trails that many years ahead. It’s the Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan and it’s funded by a $20,000 grant from the State Dept. of Health as a way to promote healthy lifestyles and is being matched by the Town of Fishers.
This master plan is being drawn up with public input, too. The town’s Dept. of Community Development held a forum March 27 at Launch Fishers and as many as 50 residents showed up to share what they’d like to see the future city look like in terms of paths, trails and sidewalks.
Assistant director of Planning Rachel Johnson said it’s important to find out what Fishers’ residents want. “We’re listening to what destinations they would like to bike or walk to, but currently can’t because the infrastructure’s not there and they don’t feel safe. Also, where are those gaps in the system at intersections that they don’t feel comfortable crossing? And what do they currently like about our system? What trails do they like to use? We need to know, so that we can identify what we need to expand on,” she said.
As a newer community that has grown very quickly, Johnson said there are gaps in the system that are natural. So, this project identifies what planners need to work on in ways of sidewalk and trail connections, with added bicycle lanes on the road, so that cyclists feel comfortable using the roads to travel. In addition, multi use paths are being considered. “We’ve talked about making a multi use path to connect Conner Prairie to our downtown area and then connect it down to Richey Woods. So, we want to get input from the community on what they would like to ideally see as those types of recreational uses as well,” said Johnson.
She said that connecting Conner Prairie is an exciting project for the planners. “Just engaging the community to get out-of-the-box ideas that we haven’t thought of on key destinations is important. And looking at what roads they have the most trouble crossing. Through these exercises we’ve heard that many people want to cross 37 but can’t. There’s also a lot of people who want to cross I-69 and the river to get to Carmel. These are major projects we need to consider,”she said.
Michael Breach, a Fishers resident and engineer attended the forum, said he is looking forward to seeing the Master Plan. “In my opinion the town has floundered in a lot of situations. I think a lot of that is controlled by economics and funding. The plan will give us some purpose and place,” he said.
Christopher Hansen also took time to come to the forum. “I came because I commute on my bike to work in the summer and my family just enjoys riding bikes around town. I want to see what the plan is. I like seeing that the town is seeking input.”
Tony Bonacuse had a more specific reason for attending. “I came to the forum because I live in Walnut Creek which is south on Cumberland. My concern is that we are missing out on a community development project. A thousand residents could access the new development downtown if we were connected to Cumberland Road via a bike path. So we would want access to go north on Cumberland. Then we’d want people north of 116th to have access to Cumberland Park and Stony Creek pool, so we could have a connection there,” he said. Another concern for Bonacuse is the wooden bridge on Cumberland Rd. at Sand Creek where it constricts to the point of becoming dangerous when pedestrians or bicyclists try to cross at the same time as vehicles. He pointed out that people have been killed there in the past.
The Master Plan, when finalized, will be prioritized and implemented in stages as funding allows. Johnson said creating the plan is important. “I think to stay competitive we need to make sure that we have a community that is healthy for people to live in and easy for people to get around, no matter if they no longer want to drive, or if they just want another option to get to destinations,” she said.
If you have ideas, another forum will be held at Launch Fishers at 7 Launch Way, behind the Fishers Library on May 14 from 6 to 8pm. You can also go to the town website at www.fishers.in.us, and click on the link to the interactive wiki-map. You can pinpoint locations that you feel need to be addressed and leave comments.