Pedestrians, runners, and cyclists in Rolla know the joy that can be found along the ACORN trail.

This path opened up beautiful places in the middle of the city to be enjoyed by all; and the trail granted access for residents to pursue their fitness passions outdoors. According to local lore, the concept for the trail originated from a meeting around the table of local resident, and somewhat legendary, Betty Eyberg many years ago. Although Betty has since passed on, the vision she and others in the community set forth remains and grows.   

The City of Rolla now manages the ACORN trail, and has continued to unite it with other parts of the city to make the community even more connected with one another and nature through outdoor recreation. The Public Works Department established a Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) in 2017 to assist with this continued development. The purpose behind this committee is to make the community more livable by promoting bicycling and walking while being sensitive to the needs of all users. This simultaneously promotes health and fitness and attracts new residents and employers to the area.   The 2018 Bicycle Pedestrian Master Plan serves as the touchstone to continue to grow the momentum given to us by those with the foresight to create the ACORN trail, and the plan is at the center of the current BPAC mission. Much of the sidewalk improvements around Rolla will help join previously disconnected walkable areas of town, which is a very important component of the plan.     

Another benefit of having the BPAC is that its members can assist the city in the application for bicycle-and-pedestrian-friendly city status. This helps the city compete for funding to continue improvements. Along with physical improvements on the ground, though, these rankings also depend on a culture within the community to exist.   Bicycle safety education events, group rides, participation in Bike to Work Day, and other activities will help Rolla reach the goal.   Businesses can even help in the effort by installing bicycle parking (learn more about what counts as good bicycle parking first though) or participating in the promotion of bicycling and walking as forms of alternative transportation within the community. Finding a few like-minded citizens and business owners that want to help organize such an event and then contacting the city Parks and Recreation Department could be the first steps in getting a really fun and effective walking or bicycling event off the ground.   

The BPAC is also tasked with sending an annual report to the City Council, summarizing the past year’s activities and making recommendations regarding the funding of projects.   

The 2018 annual report held some fantastic highlights:

— Over 50 percent complete in updating Rolla sidewalks for wheelchair accessibility.  

— Projects accomplished: Officially adopted the 10 Year Bicycle and Pedestrian Capital Improvement Plan; finished marking of bicycle path and sharrows on Rolla St.; installed test cross-walk signage at locations along Acorn Trail; 

— Current and upcoming project: Improving and connecting sidewalks along Kings Highway and along Bishop Ave.; BPAC members also have begun discussing the possibility of development of a Shared Use Path on Oak Street from 6th Ave. to Highway 72 and other connections to the existing bicycle-pedestrian paths.   

— The BPAC held successful planning meetings and members also participated in a booth at the Kids Safety Day held at the Rolla Lions’ Club Park to promote safe bicycling and hear from community members how they use the local sidewalks and shared use paths.

— Successfully completing the first year of a 5-year trajectory to reach 25 miles of bicycle lanes and sharrows within the 160-mile Rolla city road network.

The BPAC also just submitted its 2019 application to the League of American Bicyclists, Bicycle Friendly America Program, to have Rolla recognized as a Bicycle Friendly Community.  Along with the application, the program has asked that bicyclists in our community provide their input as well via this public survey link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/app_BFC_FA19

To learn more about how to get bicycle and pedestrian projects underway and planned, visit www.rollacity.org/pubworks or contact Steve Hargis, P.E., Director of Public Works, at shargis@rollacity.org  or by phone at (573) 364-8659. We hope to hear from anyone interested in being part of making this community even friendlier to pedestrians and cyclists!