Objective: Enhance quality-of-life and quality of place in Wichita Falls through programs and investments that will lead to a Silver Bicycle Friendly Community award.
Wichita Falls has long had an association with bicycling due to the Hotter’N Hell Hundred bicycle ride, MSU’s nationally competitive varsity cycling program, and the nearly completed Circle Trail. “A Bicycle-Friendly Community” was one of the seven catalysts in the first Falls Future strategy, and its implementation was highly successful. Various community members came together to form the Bike Wichita Falls volunteer group and the City of Wichita Falls has included bicycle-friendly initiatives as part of its 2021 Strategic Plan. Together, these entities worked with community partners to help Wichita Falls receive a Bronze Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) award from the League of American Bicyclists in 2019, the second year of implementation (This designation was initially envisioned as a goal for year four.)
Wichita Falls now has an opportunity to go even further in cementing bicycling as part of the community’s identity. A logical next step is making progress toward a Silver-level award from the League of American Bicyclists. Stakeholders familiar with conditions in Wichita Falls and the BFC program requirements say that this will require a new level of commitment to creating staff capacity and advancing bicycle-friendly infrastructure.
Unlike much of the work required to receive the Bronze designation, these next steps will be resource-intensive, and stakeholders were clear that the City cannot do it all alone. Partners should seek every opportunity to leverage state and federal funds and private donations to complete projects. Input participants said these investments will be worth it for the quality of life and quality of place returns they will provide. Stakeholders also noted the potential impact of bicycling on transportation equity, as improved infrastructure could help individuals who do not have access to a vehicle access jobs and amenities.
Buffalo Bicycle Master Plan Update (Buffalo, NY)
1. Continue “Education” and “Encouragement” efforts
- With Bike Wichita Falls, the City of Wichita Falls, and other key partners, continue and enhance efforts to promote bicycling through outreach, education and training programs, advocacy, etc.
- Engage the business community to promote bike-to-work events and benefits for employees who commute to work via bike or other forms of active transportation
2. Complete ongoing and planned infrastructure projects
- Complete the remaining sections of the Circle Trail and continue to implement planned bike lanes as funding becomes available
- Upon completion of the Circle Trail, publicize the achievement through internal awareness building, a “grand opening ride” or other special event, and earned media placements in out-of-market outlets
3. Develop a new bicycle master plan to inform next-level infrastructure opportunities
- Work with public, private, and nonprofit partners to resource and commission a new bicycle master plan for the City of Wichita Falls, updating the current guiding document dating to 2005
- Ensure that the plan establishes a vision for a connected network of bicycle infrastructure that leverages existing quiet neighborhood streets and shared use paths and identifies priority areas for new “protected” bike lanes on arterials to accommodate users of varying ages and ability levels
- Seek to create bicycle infrastructure connections to key job centers, amenities, and institutions, including Downtown Wichita Falls, MSU, SAFB, etc.
- Ensure that the planning process is inclusive and that proposed infrastructure upgrades are equitable; prioritize projects that serve areas with low household incomes, high proportions of households that lack access to a vehicle, and neighborhoods that have historically suffered from disinvestment
- Identify low-cost ways in which protected bicycle infrastructure can be implemented on streets with excess travel lanes
- Determine anticipated infrastructure costs and identify federal, state, local, and philanthropic resources to implement improvements
4. Increase public-sector staff capacity to support bicycling initiatives
- Add a bicycle coordinator or similar staff position at the City of Wichita Falls to oversee infrastructure implementation and other key duties