All cities and towns must have a Master Plan. Master Plans contain within them the plans and codes for how the municipality will be built. For example: maximum building height, acceptable levels of delay at intersections, zoning codes for residential, commercial, and mixed use, etc. Master Plans contain a section typically called the “Transportation Element”—this is where the municipality’s policies pertaining to land use related to transportation—cars, trucks, bikes, transit, pedestrians, etc. are spelled out at a high level. Sometimes plans will undergo a “check in” at the 5-year mark, especially during times of high population growth, building, and/or economic upturns.
• Master Plans are public documents, and as such can be found at your local library and City Planning department for review.
If you are fortunate, your municipality will also have a Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan (BPMP), or sometimes separate Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plans. These documents move in to the detail of where and what types of routes currently exist and/or should exist in your town. BPMPs are typically developed by a citizen-based committee that helps to create and then maintain the plan. These committees can be found under a variety of similar names—Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committees (BPACs), Traffic Advisory Committees (TACs), Bicycle Advisory Committees (BACs), Bicycle Advisory Groups (BAGs), etc. BPMPs are updated more frequently than Master Plans due to the project-specific information in the plans.
• Find out if your municipality has a BPAC, and if so, who are the committee members. Just ask your local Planning Department.
• BPAC meetings are public meetings; find out when the BPAC meets and attend to provide input.
• If no BPAC exists, work with your local advocacy group to get one started. If no local advocacy group exists, consider meeting with your local officials to get a BPAC started. More information on meeting with your elected officials can be found in Urban Velo #16, “Persuasion – A Political Primer”.
• BPMPs are also on file at your local library and/or Planning Department.