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Avon Bicycle & Pedestrian Master Plan nearly complete

 Residents invited to comment on draft document

By John Fitts

Staff Writer


AVON – As the Town Council moves toward likely adoption of a Bicycle & Pedestrian Master Plan, residents still have a little time to weigh in on the recommendations included in a draft proposal.

On Feb. 1, SLR Consulting presented the Town Council with that draft document, which has been about a year in the making.

In that time, SLR – with input from town staff, advocacy groups, nonprofits, and the public at large – has worked to document existing conditions, assess current and desired pedestrian and cycling habits, and come up with a host of recommendations. Town planning and mapping documents were also incorporated, as was vehicle and crash data.

The draft report includes background on those existing conditions, the outreach process, concept development, recommendations, and an implementation plan.


The plan addresses goals such as:

  • Creating new pedestrian and cycling corridors

  • Improving access to existing infrastructure

  • Connecting major trail systems

  • Adding wayfinding signage

  • Adding visual cues for motorists

  • Providing easier access to shopping centers, community hubs, schools, and playgrounds

  • Identifying funding opportunities

  • Integrating bike and pedestrian networks as funding becomes available


While much of the presentation to the Council included a breakdown of the recommendations and implementation, SLR representatives also spoke to the process.

Holly Parker, principal transportation planner at SLR, said there is energy around the topic.

“Often times when you start a project like this it kind of helps catalyze energy and projects and interest in the topic, which we think is really what happened here,” Parker said.

She noted that in recent months the town:

  • Was named a Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly Community by The League of American Bicyclists

  • Received preliminary approval for a $4 million grant to improve Country Club Road and install a pedestrian facility from the library east to Old Farms Road

  • Passed a Complete Streets Resolution that provides a policy framework for improved bicycle, pedestrian, and transit accommodations

  • Developed a bicycle education program for fourth graders that attend public school

  • Decided that vehicle travel lanes may be as narrow as 10 feet on low-traffic-volume collector roads or roads classified as local, to provide more space for pedestrians and cyclists along the road edge while calming traffic. (SLR noted that the overall width of the road does not change)

  • Applied for a bus shelters grant for five locations (this grant was not successful, but officials plan to reapply)

  •  Improved the sidewalk on West Avon Road from Sunnybrook Drive to 460 West Avon Road

Recommended action steps include planning changes such as updates in zoning, as well as short- and long-term infrastructure recommendations. Those can be simple as stamping a speed limit at points along the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail, to complex as sidewalk infrastructure along Route 44.

While many areas of town are included, more intense focus is given to highly used areas such as the Route 44 corridor, Country Club Road, The Farmington Canal Heritage Trail, and Fisher Meadows.

At the meeting, SLR personnel detailed some of the aspects included in section of the plan that deals with recommendations and implementation.

Dave Sullivan, manager of traffic and transportation at SLR, gave an overview of a “walkshed” map that includes both existing and potential sidewalks, paths, and other infrastructure, as well as trailheads, public schools, points of interest, public destinations, and commercial areas.

“We took the information, where do people want to walk? What are the safety concerns? Where are people walking and biking today? These seem like the places we should focus on, so we did that,” he said.  

He also noted similar mapping for bicycle connectivity efforts and roadway characteristics like roadway width, available right of way, speed limits, traffic volume, tree growth, guiderails, and topography. The latter items in the list are sometimes noted in the plans as potential barriers – or at least challenges - to expanding walking and cycling infrastructure. And, as expected, SLR noted that cost is often a huge barrier, but the report does include some potential grant opportunities.

A little later in the meeting, Fiona Flynn, Transportation Engineer with SLR, gave a more detailed example of a walkshed area as included in the report. A section map for Route 44 and Ensign Drive (near Town Hall), for example, recommends new sidewalks on the south side of Route 44, upgraded pedestrian signal infrastructure at Ensign Drive, new sidewalk, a corner bump-out behind the town hall parking, and new Farmington Canal Heritage Trail wayfinding signage.

Another aspect of the draft plan is an implementation matrix that details potential improvements, who they benefit (bike/pedestrian/all), whether the goal is short or long-term, cost level (less than $100,000, $100,000 to $300,000 or more than $300,000) and selected notes detailing alternatives and potential funding sources.

In a discussion with the council, Sullivan noted that short-term recommendations aren’t necessarily temporary fixes or things that are scrapped for long-term goals. Signage, for example, is a relatively inexpensive change, he noted. Another example of a short-term recommendation could involve narrowing travel lanes as the town repaves a roadway, leaving that additional width for future cycling lanes or even setting the stage for side paths along the street.

There are, of course, barriers to change, even beyond cost. State roads involve a much more complicated process of convincing the Department of Transportation to accommodate.

But town officials said the matrix and other tools will now give the town the chance to easily look up recommendations and at least have those conversations.

And importantly, according to SLR and local officials, the implementation plan is not just a printed document, but will be available to town staff electronically, allowing it to be searched or sorted by category.

Town staff, for example, could sort by safety to look at the areas of highest priority.

In addition to SLR, town staff put a lot of work into this process, officials said.

“I would go a step further. What Dave [Sullivan] said earlier is really important – about this being an active, living document,” Town Manager Brandon Robertson said. “Town staff will use this a lot. We will use it as a point of reference when there are state projects that are coming up. We’re going to use it as a point of reference in conjunction with our own pavement management program.

So, when we’re thinking about what roads are going to get treatment – whatever the treatment is – we’re going to look at the plan and see what the recommendation is and how we can accommodate that.”

The $75,000 study was funded with American Rescue and Recovery Act funds. The Town Council will consider adopting a final plan in the coming months but there is still a little time for resident input. 

Those who wish to view the draft plan can visit

Any additional comments from residents should be submitted by 4:30 p.m. Feb. 29. They can be sent via email to and or by calling (860) 409-4328.

The slide from the presentation shows a general overview of the bicycle connectivity network.


This is one of the slides that show bicycle recommendations in a certain area of town - this one being the northeast portion.

An overview of the pedestrian connectivity goals.

This slide shows the walkshed goals for the area of Route 44 near Town Hall.




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