The Anchorage Non-Motorized Plan provides the vision for a network of facilities for non-motorized travel (walking, biking, rolling, and winter non-motorized modes) within the Anchorage Metropolitan Area Transportation Solutions (AMATS) Metropolitan Planning Area.
You can visit the official website and/or download the plan here. The plan is open for public comment until March 5th, and you can send your comments to [email protected]
AMATS presented an overview of the plan at a public open house on February 18th, and you can view a recording of the presentation here. That’s a great way to get a quick overview of the plan’s contents. The plan consists of 205 pages, but it is easy to read with lots of informational graphics. You could also focus on the chapters that are of particular interest to you:
Chapter 1 (Introduction) describes the goals, objectives, and motivation behind the plan.
Chapter 2 (Existing Conditions) describes and maps existing bike/ped facilities as well as other factors considered by the plan, such as areas of high demand (such as business districts) and areas with a lower socioeconomic status where non-motorized transportation might be particularly needed. These factors were used to identify where more work is needed to improve the network.
Chapter 3 (Public Involvement) describes the steps taken to encourage past public participation in developing the plan.
Chapter 4 (Network Development) describes and maps the proposed connections to help improve the bike/ped transportation network.
Chapter 5 (Prioritization) indicates which proposed projects are the highest priority to be completed first.
Chapter 6 (Implementation) outlines several example projects with detailed guidance in how they might be implemented. These are only examples to illustrate costs, feasibility, and potential types of facilities - no set plans for any given project.
Chapter 7 (Design Guide) provides important information on specifically how projects could be designed to be bike- and ped-friendly.
Overall, Bike Anchorage supports this plan and agrees with its goals to make non-motorized transportation more feasible and comfortable as a way to get around Anchorage. We appreciate the data-driven approach to prioritizing projects, including considerations such as where people need to go and how existing inequities make non-motorized options particularly essential in some areas of town.
Bike Anchorage is currently preparing comments on the plan, and we will make that letter available here when it is completed. Our comments focus on three main areas:
Ensuring the “Existing Bicycle Network” map is accurate. The existing facilities, as displayed in the plan, provide an important baseline for evaluating where gaps in the network need to be filled. We will ask that the map be revised to remove or distinguish the “secondary paved paths” that are unsuitable for bicycling due to narrow width or high driveway density. We will also ask the plan to recognize that the winter bicycle network is much different from the summer one due to paved shoulders and bike lanes being uncleared or used for snow storage. We support the creation of a “prioritized winter bike network” that would indicate particular routes that would be prioritized for winter maintenance, providing a reliable way to move across the city even if the number of routes is reduced relative to the summer network.
Including non-infrastructure solutions in the plan. Currently, the plan focuses almost entirely on building infrastructures such as bike paths and bike lanes. While infrastructure is essential to improving the network, other measures could help as well. We ask that the plan include guidance and encouragement to implement solutions such as improving wayfinding signage, adjusting the timing of traffic signals for bikes and pedestrians, improving law enforcement and education to make roads safer, and adding lighting where needed.
Optimizing design and maintenance. We suggest a few improvements to the Design Guide, such as prioritizing infrastructure options that will make winter maintenance easier, ensuring that bike facility design follows best-practice guidelines (such as specifying that the gutter pan should not be considered part of a bike lane), and ensuring that longer bicycles, such as recumbent trikes or bikes pulling trailers, will be accommodated in project design.
We encourage everyone interested in non-motorized transportation to submit comments supporting the plan or suggesting changes to make Anchorage more bike-friendly. Please feel free to use any of the above comments in writing your own letter. The plan will also require approval by the Anchorage Assembly, so you can also contact your assembly member to demonstrate your support for the plan or any changes you would like to see. Simply stating that you support efforts to make Anchorage more bike-friendly is just as important as making any suggestions for changes to the plan.
We suggest the following template as a starting point; you can expand this template or substitute points for improvement that are particularly important to you:
Dear AMATS Planning Team,
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Non-Motorized Plan. I strongly support efforts to improve options for biking and walking in Anchorage. As the draft plan is finalized, I urge you to ensure that the map of existing conditions accurately reflects routes that are safe and comfortable for bicycling; to encourage the use of supplemental solutions such as wayfinding, traffic signal timing, law enforcement, and education in addition to building infrastructure; and to continue working to ensure that winter maintenance is sufficient to allow reliable, safe, and equitable non-motorized transportation throughout the year.
Thank you for working to improve non-motorized transportation in Anchorage, which is such an important part of making our city safer and more liveable.
Comments can be sent to [email protected]
by this Friday, March 5th, 2021.