Taking a step forward

HANCOCK – For years, members of the Hancock City Council have been discussing how to integrate non-motorized methods of transportation into the city, and with the passing Wednesday of a Complete Streets Ordinance, that idea is closer to reality.

Glenn Anderson, Hancock city manager, said part of the city’s strategic plan includes improvements to bicycling, walking and access to the Portage Lake waterfront, and the Complete Streets Ordinance will help to make those things happen.

The city council established a bike and pedestrian committee about two years ago to determine how cycling and walking as transportation can be integrated into the city, Anderson said.

“We’ve been working towards a goal of non-motorized transportation,” he said.

Anderson said Complete Streets is a concept developed by the federal and state governments as a way to make non-motorized transportation a part of transportation route planning.

Now that the Complete Streets Ordinance has been approved by the city council, Anderson said the Hancock Bike and Pedestrian Committee, the Hancock Department of Public Works, the Recreation Commission and the Downtown Development Authority will have 18 months to develop a Non-motorized Transportation Network Plan. It will then be submitted to the city’s Planning Commission for approval before being sent to the city council for members’ approval.

Although there is no funding which would automatically come from implementation of the Complete Streets plan, Anderson said it may help with getting funding in the future.

“It would certainly support some grant applications,” he said.

According to the ordinance, a Complete Streets plan includes all forms of transportation and how they may interact with each other.

Ray Sharp, Western Upper Peninsula Health Department community planning and preparedness manger, and member of the Hancock Bike and Pedestrian Committee, said the committee has about 12 people who attend regular monthly meetings.

“It was formed to look at all the broad issues around walking and biking,” he said.

Sharp said committee members also communicated with Michigan Department of Transportation officials about the upcoming construction project on M-26 from the Portage Lake Lift Bridge to Dollar Bay and their concerns for the accessibility for bike and pedestrian traffic on the road.

“Whenever you do a Complete Streets plan, you consider the facilities within the city and also how it connects to the rest of the world,” he said.

Members include Hancock City Council Member John Slivon and Deb Mann of the Hancock Planning Commission. Anderson often attends meetings, also.

“That’s important, that we have some official connection to those two committees,” Sharp said.

Now that the Complete Streets Ordinance has been approved, Sharp said a plan for creating non-motorized transportation routes in the city will be developed.

Although the routes will be used by recreation bicycle riders and walkers, Sharp said that isn’t the main intent of Complete Streets.

“Primarily it’s not a recreation plan, it’s a transportation plan,” he said.

Hancock Mayor Lisa McKenzie said she’s glad the Complete Streets Ordinance was approved because for as long as she’s been on the city council, there have been discussions and actions to improve the livability of the city.

“It’s a really positive move for walkability and bikeability in Hancock,” she said. “After 12 years, it’s really coming together.”