Mixed opinions on Monona plan to improve pedestrian and bike safety

MONONA, Wis. (WMTV) -- A broad plan to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety in Monona will head to the city council on Aug. 19.

Some residents have mixed opinions, but the city wants to tell them no specific decisions will be made anytime soon.

Mary Larson has lived in Monona for 10 years. She said she has never experienced any safety concerns while walking or bicycling, but she knows that is not the case for everyone.

"For young children or people in larger groups, I think that there can be some safety issues because there really are very few areas of sidewalk," Larson said.

The city is trying to address some of their residents' concerns.

"City leaders have been hearing from residents and visitors to the community saying they're concerned about the lack of of safe connections for bike and pedestrians," said city administrator Brian Gadow.

Over the last year and a half, a committee of city council members, residents and other city staff put together the Pedestrian and Bicycle Improvements Plan.

"The idea behind the plan is to look all the different ways we can make those connections from a safe standpoint," Gadow said.

The plan includes several different proposals, including adding sidewalks to busy streets and adding traffic signals to crosswalks. However, some residents are worried about the impact on the rest of the community.

"I do think the addition of some sidewalks in some areas would be beneficial, but I would hope it wouldn't involve removing any of the mature or even new trees," Larson said.

Gadow wants to reassure residents like Larson that accepting the plan does not commit the city to any specific projects. He also said residents will have the chance to voice their opinion on any decisions.

"We would make sure there's a separate process that we would go through to gather community feedback and input," Gadow said.

Gadow also emphasized that just because a project is suggested in the plan does not mean the city will pursue it. He said the plan is meant to act as a guide for long-term planning.

"How do we think about Monona in five, 10, 20 years down the road and what do we want it to be in terms of how we connect people throughout the community?" he said.

Monona's City Council will decide whether to accept the plan on Aug. 19.

If accepted, the plan will act as a guide for the city. Any specific projects would take at least a few years to get started, and they would have to be approved separately.