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Recommendations for a network of bicycle routes throughout Niagara and Erie counties could be presented to the Niagara Frontier Transportation Committee within the next two months, according to a consultant for the committee.

Bruce Burgess, project director for the Bicycle Federation of America, said Monday that his report analyzing 813 miles of roadways in the two counties should be finished in a month or two. The regional Transportation Committee retained the Bicycle Federation as its consultant for this phase of bicycle planning.

Burgess said the study deals entirely with "on-road facilities" in which bicycles would share the roadway with motor vehicles, or in which bicycle lanes would be adjacent to driving lanes for other vehicles. The creation of separate bicycle paths was not considered in this study because the construction of such paths would be far more expensive than using existing roadways.

The consultant said the goal was to accommodate bicycle facilities to existing roadways throughout the Niagara Frontier, and to promote sharing of the roads among motor vehicles and bicycles.

Burgess was among the speakers at an informational meeting in the Pendleton Town Hall.

The emphasis on bicycling came through the federal Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act, the main source of funds for transportation projects. That act requires local planning agencies to consider alternative means of transportation, such as bicycling, when designing or improving transportation networks.

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Committee is the local agency responsible for the coordination of transportation plans in Niagara and Erie Counties. It is a separate organization from the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, which runs the bus and light rail systems and operates the international airports in Niagara Falls and Cheektowaga.

Tim Trabold, a committee analyst, said there was "insufficient roadway or shoulder space to designate bicycle routes" on 159 miles of the roadways studied. The remaining 654 miles of roadway studied in the two counties could be developed for bicycling by paving the shoulders of the roads, widening the driving lanes closest to the curbs, building bike lanes next to those driving lanes, or reconfiguring the driving lanes and changing some on-street parking regulations.

The cost of creating 609 miles of bike lanes without reconfiguring any traffic lanes and without changing any on-street parking regulations was estimated at $3.4 million to $4.9 million.

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