The movement of people within the MPO is an integral link in the region’s transportation system. The provision for safety and ease of flow throughout the region for these two modes of travel (pedestrians and bicyclists) receives on-going evaluation. Properly developed and maintained bicycle and pedestrian facilities enhance the quality of life for the entire community.
Bicycle and Hiking Areas
After the inception of the annual "Hotter’n Hell Hundred" in August 1982, the event has grown to become one of the largest sanctioned cycle rides in the nation. The 1998 race had an estimated 8,211 riders. This race has sparked an interest in all forms of bicycling – from competitive through recreational – within the City of Wichita Falls.
Recreational trails provide significant opportunities for urban residents to experience nature and serene environments while providing opportunities for alternative transportation. Careful placement of trail systems can accomplish this and reduce hazardous encounters with automobiles. In an effort to recognize the interest in recreation and leisure activities and the ever-increasing number of people who use alternative transportation systems for commuting, the City of Wichita Falls has developed a long-range linked pedestrian and bicycle trail system. The proposed linked trail system will be approximately 26 miles in length (Figure 5-1). As of 1999, there were three existing sections to the trail, those being the initial Lucy Park section, the Williams/Eastside Drive and Weeks Park sections. Various amenities incorporated into the design of this unique trail system are landscaping, lighting, bridges, retaining walls, and benches. For the 1999/2000 funding year an additional two sections of the trail have been awarded project status and are under design and acquisition. The final component of the linked trail system (Lake Wichita north to Seymour Highway and east to Lucy Park) is still in the draft stages and it is anticipated to be constructed by 2020. In the interim, funding, design, and right-of-way issues must still be determined.
Currently, the City’s codes require sidewalks to be placed in all new residential and commercial developments in order to help ensure adequate pedestrian routes as the city grows. A property owner is required to install sidewalks during initial construction and certain remodeling projects. Issues arise in older neighborhoods where, in some cases, the property has been abandoned and the sidewalks are in disrepair. The City has developed the "Sidewalk Partnership Program" within its Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) entitlement areas (low-income neighborhoods, downtown, various city parks, high-traffic areas around public schools and public facilities). This program provides multiple benefits to the City and its residents through:
- repaired and improved sidewalks, curb cuts and handicapped-accessible ramps which provide safer pedestrian conditions
- beautifies older neighborhoods
- provides low-income individuals with both life skills and jobs skills in the construction trade