Draft Bike Plan Coming Up

Interested in Chapel Hill’s plans to create a more connected, bikeable community? You’ll want to participate in “Bike to the Future 2,” the release event for the Town’s draft Bike Plan set for 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24, at the Chapel Hill Public Library, 100 Library Drive. Community members are welcome to review the draft plan and its recommendations.

The bike plan kicked off in May with a community forum. Work on the plan proceeded over the summer months with the creation of a crowdsourcing WikiMap and an online survey resulting in over 1000 responses about Chapel Hill’s transportation system.

Feedback from community responses along with a steering committee and a 15-member stakeholder group informed preliminary recommendations. When completed, the Chapel Hill Bike Plan will provide a “how-to-guide” for making Chapel Hill a place where more people can safely ride their bikes to more places in the community. A final plan is expected to be presented to the Council in November 2013.

“The vision for this Bike Plan is that Chapel Hill is a community where biking is a safe and convenient everyday choice for all types of riders throughout Town” said Jason Merril, a member of the Bike Plan Steering Committee.

The Bike Plan is part of DESIGN Chapel Hill 2020, the implementation phase of the community’s new comprehensive plan. “Connected Community” (including Chapel Hill Bike Plan) is one of the Big Idea initiatives that embody the essence of the Chapel Hill 2020 goals.

During the Chapel Hill 2020 planning process, residents expressed that they want more facilities and street design features that promote safe bicycling. People said there should be improved connectivity between important destinations and that bicycling can become part of a healthy active lifestyle.

Stay connected to the Bike Plan at www.townofchapelhill.org/bikeplan or

Cyclists may also be interested in the “North Carolina Bike Summit” an event hosted by North Carolina Active Transportation Alliance (NCATA). This year’s summit will take place in Carrboro from Friday, Oct. 18 to Sunday, Oct. 20. For more information, visit: http://www.ncactive.org/content/nc-bicycle-summit

Planning for Sustaining Places

By Scott Sherrill, UNC MPA Student

In the first of two back to back presentations on January 5, available online here, Dave Godschalk, of the UNC Chapel Hill City and Regional Planning Department, delivered a lecture on sustainable comprehensive planning, and Bill Roper and Brad Wilson, of UNC Healthcare and BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina, respectively, discussed a recent healthcare collaboration.

Godschalk began his talk by stressing that planning is not just about a process, which has been much of the focus of Chapel Hill 2020 thus far, but also about a final end product.

We have described some of the principles from Dave Godschalk’s talk here, but beyond those basic principles, Godschalk also described best practices and many of the complicating issues facing communities in the 21st century: resource depletion, climate instability, energy scarcity, economic stress, social inequity, and public health. He also described the comprehensive plan as an ideal instrument for sustaining places because of their legal authority, scope to cover functions, and history of practice in the United States. Furthermore, they have a mandate to set community goals, engage citizens, establish responsibility for component parts, and achieve consensus. A good plan serves as a record of community agreement for where a community wants to go and how it wants to get there.

Godschalk posed the question “What can Chapel Hill learn from plans of other places?” A list of plans used can be found at the end of this post. The plans selected represent growing and shrinking areas, large and small, local, county, and regional plans. The plan Godschalk focused on as an apt model for Chapel Hill was that of Fort Collins, CO.

To think about sustaining places, Godschalk suggests breaking out of the traditional community planning assumptions on account of new realities and moving towards an adaptive planning model: continuous monitoring of plan, strategic changes to plan as needed to face unanticipated challenges or issues. The adaptive model combines the technical and participatory tracks of planning; develops contingencies; develops and tracks outcome measures; and has ongoing implementation. The new planning method necessitates a new format and topics to focus on multi-topical systems. The new format stems from an integrative framework that breaks out of traditional silos.

In the best cases, the comprehensive plans shape budget priorities, have clear assignment of responsibility, a metric for measuring the success of the plan, and a timeline in place for the completion of goals and objectives.

Sustaining plans typically:

  • Adopt sustainability principles
  • Integrate policies across programs
  • Consider equity, health, and wellbeing inputs
  • Act on scientific evidence
  • Address demands with limited funds
  • Implement non-traditional goals
  •  Monitor sustainability metrics
  • Link to regional plans
  • Conduct stakeholder engagement