By Heather Graves
GREEN BAY – It started as a vision – make the streets safer for people of all ages to walk and ride their bikes throughout the city.
That vision is now becoming reality with the approval of the Safe Walk and Bike Green Bay plan, a joint effort of the Green Bay Area Public School District and the City of Green Bay.
The plan was approved unanimously by the school board at its meeting Monday, June 17, and subsequently unanimously approved by the City Council at its meeting on Tuesday, June 18.
According to plan developers, the plan highlights what the city can do better when is comes to making safe walking and biking paths.
This is an effort to encourage residents to make walking and biking a part of their daily routines and providing safe routes to school and other community destinations.
The Safe Walk and Bike plan was years in the making.
It was started by the district in 2015. Grant funding for the plan was secured in 2016 and the school district partnered with the city in late 2017.
Shortly thereafter, the partnership extended to Brown County Planning and the organization Wello to create a workgroup. That led to bringing Toole Design Group on board in January 2018.
The school district received a grant funded through the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to fund most of the plan.
The city and the district each contributed 10 percent of the total project cost, totaling $30,994.
This plan equally addresses the city’s overall needs while giving the district specific recommendations as well.
“It’s a big step forward,” said Mayor Eric Genrich. “It’s something that a lot of folks are looking for – a bike friendly, walkable city, livable city.”
Over the last several years, there has been a public push for a bicycle and pedestrian plan for the city.
The plan also addressed the needs of each school in the district, looking at how safe it is for students to get to and from school.
“I’m really blown away by the deep work that you all did, super thoughtful,” said School Board Member Kristina Shelton. “It’s really inspiring. I think this really gives our district and our city an opportunity to be a national leader on what cities our size can do.”
Implementation of projects will be done in phases based on priorities listed in the plan.
“Just getting this plan adopted makes us eligible for more grant money,” said City Planner Stephanie Hummel.
Hummel said many of the funding opportunities are matching or fully-funded grants.
Moving forward to get ahead of the game, as work is done throughout the city, staff will look at the Safe Walk and Bike Green Bay plan to address the bicycle and pedestrian needs in that area.
Jeremy Wildenberg, transportation manager for the Green Bay school district, said to ensue this plan is used effectively, the original workgroup from the planning process will be retained and expanded.
The full plan is available for review on the district website.