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Reverse parking, centered bike lanes part of concepts ND Moves is trying across state

Wade Kline with the North Dakota Department of Transportation looks at a posterboard with information about active-transportation demonstration projects during an open house in Minot Public Library Tuesday, July 31. Jill Schramm / Minot Daily News

MINOT, N.D. -- Nine North Dakota communities have been trying out new ideas in street design as part of rethinking active and public transportation.

In Bottineau, people are getting a sense of what curb bumpouts and pedestrian walkways might be like with temporary paintings around curbs and crosswalks decorated with painted turtles.

In Hazen, people are reverse parking – backing into diagonally parking spaces rather than fronting in. The idea is to increase safety as drivers pull out of spaces, which could allow for bike paths on the streets.

It's all part of ND Moves, an initiative to develop a statewide plan for the transportation that includes pedestrians, bikers and public transit. A public open house was held in Minot to present the latest data and project status, including information about the demonstration projects.

Demonstration projects lasting about six weeks started in early July in Bottineau, Bismarck, Grafton, Grand Forks, Hazen, Horace, Mandan, Rugby and Williston.

Steve Mullen, project manager with the NDDOT, said the demonstrations focus on improving safety, particularly in ways that encourage active, nonmotorized transportation like walking and biking. Some demonstrations are taking place near schools but many are in downtowns.

Williston is testing an idea, using barriers, in which a four-lane street becomes two lanes, with a separate center lane and bike lanes on either side. It's a concept a community might consider to encourage safe bike traffic to downtowns, parks or schools.

"This begins to spur the conversation," Mullen said. "It gives people a chance to at least comment on it, even if it isn't all positive. A lot of it is about 'what do citizens think?'"

Mullen said the goal in developing a statewide active and public transportation plan is to provide continuity for trails and transit systems. For instance, ideally, bike trail paths would integrate with bus stops for a seamless system, he said.

ND Moves is in its second and last round of public open houses. Mullen estimated a draft plan should be completed within five months, which then will be made available for public comment.

Along with the plan, a facilities guide is being prepared for parks and planning offices. The guide will offer information and tools to help communities determine the types of transportation system features that might work for them and then walk them through the development process.

Anyone who would like to comment can send comments to Mullen at smullen@nd.gov. Additional information can be found on the project website at ndmoves.dot.nd.gov.