Wellington PZA Board Praises Bicycle And Pathway Updates

The Wellington Planning, Zoning & Adjustment Board recommended approval of a Bicycle & Pedestrian Circulation Plan on Wednesday to be included in an update to the village’s comprehensive plan.

The board also recommended approval of a resolution to implement the plan.

Wellington Projects Manager Mike O’Dell said the approval will be part of the village’s zoning text amendments to the overall comprehensive plan.

“It’s an update of a plan that was prepared in 2010, and a plan that we as a village have been working on since then,” O’Dell said.

The goal of the plan is to make Wellington a more pedestrian-friendly and bicycle-friendly community, he said.

“We’d like to improve upon the bicycle and pedestrian pathways that we have,” O’Dell said. “We took a look at the bicycle lanes that we have on our roadway systems, and we also looked at ways of creating and funding those improvements, getting them done over a period of time.”

O’Dell said that village staff members sought input from residents, as well as from bicycle groups, looking at the inventory that it has and key destinations in the village, such as commercial centers, schools, parks, government facilities and places of worship, studying how people get to those locations. They also ran a survey online from March to May of last year.

“We want to increase our connectivity to various areas of the village where residents reside, so we looked at those missing links,” he said.

Some of this can be accomplished by repurposing some existing rights of way.

“We have Greenview Shores Blvd. and Big Blue Trace, where we have right-of-way areas, and we looked at how we might be able to improve upon utilizing those green spaces, knowing that some of our traffic reports have indicated that we will not be widening those roads to four lanes,” O’Dell said. “We have looked at how we might improve upon them.”

Part of the plan includes using design standards and putting up signage within the roadways to make pedestrians more visible, marking spaces on the roadways so that when motorists come up to an intersection, they will recognize it as a pedestrian and bicycle crossing.

“We are a very car-oriented community, that’s how we’re set up, so bringing to mind bicyclists and pedestrians using our pathways is a high priority,” O’Dell said.

Village staff also looked into how to improve bus stop areas and how to educate people on the meaning of bicyclist and pedestrian symbols.

There are not a lot of changes proposed for the pedestrian paths, except for a possible path along the south side of Lake Worth Road and some sections through Wellington Trace, he said.

“The majority of the pedestrian paths have been in place for a number of years,” O’Dell said. “The major component of the research that we found was the bicycle circulation. There are a number of bicycle lanes that we can have.”

The bicycle groups are the most vocal about improving bike paths because they use the roadways. They proposed a path that traverses a largely rectangular path on the outer perimeters of the village.

It takes advantage of the FPL corridor to the north, which is just south of Southern Blvd., and the FPL corridor to the eastern side of the village, which is the C-8 Canal right of way, O’Dell said. It also links back down to 50th Street South in the village’s southern reaches, and out west, to Flying Cow Ranch Road and Palm Beach Point Blvd., which has a section already done.

One of the major elements is to create a plan that links bike path improvements to planned maintenance programs on the roadways, so that bike lanes and pedestrian crossings are included, which may be provided through grant money.

Village staff also looked at financing for large projects through the Florida Department of Transportation’s Transportation Alternatives Program, which funds large projects between $250,000 and $750,000, where the village’s planned projects could be coupled together.

“We can start looking at how we might want to group some of these projects together to go after additional funding,” O’Dell said.

The long-range plan is a 10-year to 12-year program because it is linked to the village’s maintenance activities, he said.

PZA Board Member Michael Drahos applauded the plan, explaining that his children are learning to ride bicycles.

“Just recently, we’ve gone out as a family and enjoyed bicycling around town, so I’m happy to see that this effort is underway,” Drahos said.

He also asked if the plan might be expedited.

O’Dell said that the FDOT Transportation Alternatives Program for large grants might be the quickest way to move forward, citing Aero Club Drive as a large section of roadway where bicycle lanes could be put on both sides.

“We might look at the overlay program for that,” he said. “As we look at the pieces, we might want to pull them together and look at larger projects, and that’s where that money becomes available.”

PZA Board Member Elizabeth Mariaca also praised the plan. “This is fantastic,” she said. “I appreciate it so much. I think it adds tremendous value to Wellington in general.”

PZA Board Member Andrew Carduner made a motion to approve a resolution to implement the program, and Drahos made a motion to approve an ordinance amending the pathways element of the comp plan. Both carried 5-0.

The plan will now go to the Wellington Village Council for final approval.