bike lane file

A cyclist rides his bicycle up Carey Avenue on Monday, Nov. 5, 2018, in Cheyenne. Wyoming Tribune Eagle/file

CHEYENNE – As Cheyenne continues to grow and the population increases, the city’s transportation needs to change, as well, in terms of vehicle, bike and pedestrian traffic.

Connect 2045 is PlanCheyenne’s long-term transportation plan that covers the Cheyenne area, and when complete, it will identify how transportation can be improved over the next 25 years.

The project kickoff for Connect 2045 was aimed at gathering community feedback Tuesday night. Around 40 residents wrote about specific strengths and weaknesses in the transportation system now and highlighted areas where it could be improved.

“This is a community plan,” said Charles Bloom, Cheyenne’s planning and development director. “This isn’t a staff plan. It’s all about the vision the community has.”

To gather feedback, other community meetings will take place throughout the planning process, but residents can also take the community mobility survey or insert their thoughts on an interactive community map on the Cheyenne Metropolitan Planning Organization’s website.

The long-term plan isn’t designed for your average street maintenance. According to MPO Director Tom Mason, the plan strategically looks at how the city is changing and how transportation needs to adapt.

“We analyze where the community is – where it’s growing, how it’s growing, how much it’s growing,” Mason said.

Using a travel demand forecast model, Mason said they can gauge which roads need an increased capacity and what areas might need new roads altogether in order to meet the needs of a growing population. For the project, Economic & Planning Systems completed a population growth forecast, which predicted the urban planning area could grow 1.28% each year.

Once complete, Connect 2045 also will address factors like tourism and emerging technologies. Planning and design consultant Kimley-Horn was brought on as a contractor to help with the plan.

“Safety is a big underlying cause,” Troy Russ of Kimley-Horn said. “It sometimes works at odds with mobility.”

According to Russ, a large part of emerging technologies are “slow mobility” transportation like electric scooters and bikes. With the change in transit landscape, the area will have to adjust to innovations like ride-sharing services and start-up transit companies.

“With emerging tech, it’s really (about) designing our streets for slow mobility,” Russ said.

This would increase safety for bike lanes and other transit methods that can’t ride on the sidewalk.

Caroline Esch is an avid cycler in Cheyenne and rides her bike to work as much as she can. From her experiences, Esch wrote down feedback at the event on how cyclist safety can be improved.

“I think there are a lot of things the city can do that aren’t cost prohibitive,” Esch said.

According to her, the bike lanes could be swept and kept clear, and an increase in education on the rules of the road for both vehicles and cyclists would be beneficial.

For Barbara Boyd, of the MPO’s citizens advisory committee, local schools could use more crosswalks to improve the safety of students.

Boyd said the event was a good way to look ahead in terms of transportation.

“They’re getting ideas on what they might be able to start on in the future,” Boyd said.

Margaret Austin is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s local government reporter. She can be reached at maustin@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3152. Follow her on Twitter @MargaretMAustin.

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