So far in 2013, AMATS has hosted two successful Bike-N-Brainstorm rides – one in Kent in April and another in Green in June. The agency’s Bike-N-Brainstorms are an innovative way that the agency uses to gain public insight as to what should be done to improve biking in the Greater Akron area.
A Bike-N-Brainstorm is a group bike ride along key corridors so that cyclists may experience firsthand what it’s like to bike there. At the end of their ride, group members participate in a brainstorming session with agency personnel to share their ideas as to what can be done to improve bike travel within the area.
The Kent Bike-N-Brainstorm began April 20 at the new Kent Central Gateway in downtown Kent. Sixty-two attendees braved morning snow showers to travel a 5-mile route through various parts of Kent. The ride highlighted future bike projects in the city, such as the addition of new bike lanes, upcoming links between the city and the Kent State University (KSU) campus, and connections to The PORTAGE Hike & Bike Trail. Among the issues identified by participants during the subsequent brainstorming session were the need for improved signage, more bike lanes, and keeping bike lanes free of debris. The city of Kent, KSU and the Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority partnered with AMATS in hosting this event.
The Green Bike-N-Brainstorm kicked off on the morning of June 22 at the Nimisila Reservoir. A group of about 40 participants traveled their choice of a 3-mile family friendly route along Green’s Christman Road or an 8-mile route throughout the city of Green. Issues identified during the brainstorming session were the need for wider berms, improved signage and more bike lanes. The city of Green and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources partnered with AMATS in hosting this event.
“We’re really pleased with the level of enthusiasm at these events. The feedback that we receive helps our agency and local communities immensely in planning and prioritizing bike infrastructure improvements,” AMATS Planning Coordinator Krista Beniston continues, “In April, AMATS participated in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Midwest Regional Bicycle Safety Summit in Minneapolis and our Bike-N-Brainstorms were hailed as a best practice by federal officials.”
A number of ideas offered by cyclists following two well-attended rides in Akron last year made their way into the 2012 Bike Plan, the agency’s long-term vision and priorities for bike transportation, andTransportation Outlook 2035, the area’s new long-range transportation plan.