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City of Helena seeks public comment to better downtown accessibility

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Posted at 1:57 PM, Mar 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-16 16:25:21-04

HELENA — The City of Helena is seeking public comments for the developing Downtown Helena Multimodal Plan, which hopes to provide safe options for travel in the Business Improvement District.

"The overall goal of trying to improve connectivity and options for travel between areas of downtown, connecting to the Great Northern, the walking mall, the downtown core, the Centennial Trail; focused on providing better connectivity and the ability for people to travel between the areas," said Scott Randall, Consultant Project Manager for the Multimodal Plan.

Randall says the plan is in the beginning stages, and the City is hoping to get an idea of what the public would like to happen to the core of Downtown.

"Right now, we have a survey out there, and we are asking for electronic feedback initially," said Randall.

Jim Barnes, the owner of Big Sky Cycling, has ridden his bike as transportation for 35 years and says the downtown corridor of Helena can be a tricky ride.

"Riding in Downtown, you have to be ready to go with the traffic. It's not particularly bike-friendly; if you are not used to riding with cars and trucks riding by you, it can be intimidating for someone who does not do that every day," said Barnes.

Barnes hopes that the City will bring more room for bicyclists to roam with the new Multimodal Plan.

"I hope there would be more space provided for bicyclists perhaps moving cars away from the curb and letting bikes take a small lane over next to the curb, move the parking lane a little bit into the traffic lane so that would slow down traffic and give us cyclists some room to maneuver without cars buzzing by our shoulder," said Barnes.

The trickiest intersection for Barnes is Neil Avenue and Last Chance Gulch, primarily due to the wait times.

"Sitting at that five-way stop for a long time seems like a waste of time sitting still. I'd rather see a round-a-bout there," said Barnes.

The City is currently seeking public comment on ways to make the downtown area more accessible, you can find the survey here.