LACONIA — The City Council on Monday night was asked to join the "Mayor's Challenge for Safer People and Safer Streets, an initiative by the United States Department of Transportation, to encourage municipalities to take steps to enhance the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians. Nearly 200 cities across the country have accepted the the challenge.
Tim Gagnon of the N.H. Bike-Walk Alliance, explained that the challenge is based on "the Complete Streets Approach" to transportation, which treats cycling and walking as equal to other modes of transportation, especially automobiles. Cities and towns can meet the challenge by incorporating measures that accommodate the interests and protect the safety of cyclists and pedestrians into the design of roads and management of traffic.
Councilor Bob Hamel (Ward 5) reminded Gagnon that with the construction of the WOW Trail and downtown riverwalk the city was "ahead of the curve" in expanding access and ensuring safety for cyclists and pedestrians. But, Councilor Armand Bolduc (Ward 6) questioned whether there is room for vehicles and bicycles on city streets. "If there is room in your heart," Gagnon replied, "there is plenty of room in the streets."
Alan Beetle, president of WOW Trail, urged the council to consider accepting the challenge, stressing that easing the way for bicycle and foot traffic was especially important for a city that considers itselgf a tourist destination. "It's a great way to look at our streets," he said.
Mayor Ed Engler invited John Rogers of the Laconia Artea Bicycle Exchange to develop a specific list of suggestions that would make the city more "bicycle and pedestrian friendly."
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