The Town of Amherst hopes its Active Transportation Plan will get residents moving.
“The goal of the plan is to promote cycling and walking by providing an efficient and effective network of interconnected and continuous cycling and pedestrian routes, which link neighbourhoods and major destinations,” Mayor David Kogon said after council approved the plan at its May 28 council session.
The plan has been in the works since 2013. It will be implemented over the next five years at a cost of about $859,150.
“The benefits transcend environmental, economic and social issues,” the mayor said. “The benefits of being physically active are extensive and well documented. They include improved health by fighting heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.”
Kogon noted other benefits of having an active transportation plan include the fact they attract tourists, reduce the cost of transportation and enhance street life by increasing citizen interaction. Because they are emission free, they also become “a mechanism for minimizing the effect of climate change and reducing air pollution,” he added.
The plan includes developing a cycling network that will see shared bike lanes become part of the town’s overall transportation fabric. It also includes a pedestrian network that will see the building of new sidewalks, the enhancement of existing trails and the creation of a new off-street asphalt trail.
Phase one will be implemented this summer. It includes placing bike symbols on streets to mark the cycling network, which will include Victoria Street, Pleasant Street, Willow Street (between Spring and Victoria Streets), Anson Avenue-Industrial Park Drive, Park Street and Church Street between Albion Street and Robert Angus Drive.
It also includes the development of an off-street asphalt trail on South Albion Street between Robert Angus Drive and the Canadian Tire store, gravel trails next to Robert Angus Drive, between Church and Willow streets, and Willow Street between Robert Angus Drive and East Pleasant Street.
Sections of the Willow Street sidewalk between the High School and Dickey Park will also be replaced.
The budget for the Phase 1 improvements, along with the installation of “furniture” such as signage, bike racks and garbage cans, is $334,780.
The second phase, which will be implemented next year, includes maintaining the bike lanes and the widening of the asphalt sidewalk on Robert Angus Drive between the Dairy Queen and Church Street. The budget for this phase is $200,780.
Phase 3 includes maintaining the bike lanes, expanding the Dickey Brook trail between Donald Avenue and Charles Street and installing a new sidewalk on Upper Church Street between Robert Angus Drive and the town boundary. The budget for this phase is $137,030.
Phase 4 includes maintaining the bike lanes and expanding the Dickey Brook Trail between Willow Street and Abbey Lane. The budget for this phase is $105,780.
Phase 5 includes maintaining the bike lanes and installing a new sidewalk on Church Street between Beacon and East Pleasant streets. The budget for this phase is $80,780.