Residents gave their ideas on paper, and talked over possible design plans with the contracted firm, Alta Planning and Design

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Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- A Greenville planning and design firm has been looking at ways to improve Columbia's bike and pedestrian safety.

Tuesday evening, they met with city planners and residents in north Columbia in the first of a series of meetings they say will help them understand what to improve.

"If we could do bike lanes, and I would love to see places where you could park your bike," said April Harris, who was one of many people that want to see the city's pedestrian and bicycle system changed.

"I have a daughter who lives in Charlotte," Harris said, "and when I go visit her, I enjoy taking my bike there because they have bike lanes everywhere in the city."

Residents gave their ideas on paper, and talked over possible design plans with the contracted firm, Alta Planning and Design.

"There are a number of intersections that we've identified in downtown that are particular for pedestrian collisions," said Jean Crowther, an associate with Alta in charge of the "Walk Bike Columbia" project. "This public meeting is a way to get more information beyond that, and also to have more one-on-one conversations where people have an opportunity to really talk about issues beyond just the questions."

Crowther said their numbers from Richland County put pedestrian related accidents during a three year stretch starting in 2010 at 529, and 162 for those involving bicycles during the same period.

"It seems that when people are getting off the bus or going to catch another bus, it's really hard for them to gauge traffic," said president of the Seminary Ridge Neighborhood Association, LaToya Grate.

Grate said pedestrian friendliness is a hot-button issue for those in her community of about 1,000 residents.

"As you're going to your local dry cleaner, or community restaurant, or even the grocery store, you have to safe modes of transportation and walking is one of those," she said.

Alta planners are hoping to have a finished plan completed by next spring.

Other community forums being held are:

- Wednesday, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. at Capstone (campus room)

- Wednesday, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at the Martin Luther King, Jr.

- Thursday, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at the Woodland Park Community Center

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