Interactive map provides input opportunities
AZTEC — The New Mexico Department of Transportation is gathering input through the end of December about the possible creation of bike routes along state and U.S. highways.
Representatives of NMDOT and Bohannan Huston, a firm hired to undertake the bike route study, met with the Farmington Metropolitan Planning Organization's policy committee on Thursday prior to a public meeting at the Farmington Civic Center.
People who were unable to attend the meeting can comment online at bhinc.com/nm-bike-plan. The website includes an interactive map where people can mark routes they would like to see developed. There is also a questionnaire that people can complete.
Some of the routes highlighted on the map as roadways that would need to be worked on in order to offer good bike routes include the northern part of N.M. Highway 170, a loop connecting Aztec, Bloomfield and Navajo Lake State Park, and U.S. Highway 550 from Aztec to the state line.
People also have identified the portion of N.M. Highway 574 used in the annual Road Apple Rally bike race as a route that is used but could be improved.
While the plan is focused on NMDOT-managed roads, local roads also appear on the map, and people can mark routes on those roads.
Wade Patterson, the bike, pedestrian and equestrian coordinator for NMDOT, said the focus of the plan is for commuters, as well as promoting recreation and tourism.
"This plan needs to work for our local residents," he said.
He noted that the New Mexico Bike Plan will not create a list of projects for NMDOT to create. Instead, the routes identified on the plan will be developed while NMDOT is doing roadwork on the highways.
Patterson said the design for bike routes in rural areas will be different from designs in urban area.
"Mostly what we're looking at in the rural areas is nice, wide shoulders," he said.
In more urban areas, the routes would likely be bike lanes that are separate from vehicles.
Patterson said the plan is intended to integrate with regional bike networks. The Farmington MPO will likely start updating its bike and pedestrian plan in January, according to MPO members.
"I think this is a very necessary thing," said MPO policy committee Chairman Nate Duckett, who represents Farmington.
Duckett said the city of Farmington has implemented bike lanes into many of the road designs that have been completed in the recent years.
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.