By Anne O'Connor
AYER -- Does the thought of sitting through another meeting leave you twitchy, just dying to get outside and breath? Does it make you feel the need to do something, anything, to get your blood flowing?
If so, the May 20 meeting of the Ayer Master Plan and Circulation Working Group is for you.
No slide presentations are involved. It will take place during a slow-paced bicycle ride of about five miles.
It's one thing to sit in a room and look at a map and discuss bike lanes, said Community and Economic Developer Alan Manoian. Getting out there and experiencing the journey is another thing.
The ride will give folks an experiential understanding of the challenges of creating multi-use corridors.
"We are a Complete Streets community," Manoian said. From the get-go, street planning has to include ways to keep automobile, bicycle and pedestrian traffic safe.
It will also give people a chance to see neighborhoods, developments, conservation areas and even solar fields. After the ride, "we can sit and actually have a dialog," he said. "We actually experienced it together."
Frequent stops, ending at an eatery, are planned for the event organized by Master Plan and Planning Board member Geof Tillotson.
The cycling fanatic's goal is to bring attention to what's going on in Ayer.
"Things are coming down the pike and master plans make sense," Tillotson said. It will provide a plan for the next decade.
Riders will be able to understand some of the long-term consequences of current issues in front of the town, he said.
Smarter zoning can mean things like more taxes to pay for roads and connected open space. For example, he said that kids who walk to school must use a high-traffic road to get there, a less than ideal situation.
The town approved funds to hire a new town planner during Town Meeting.
Having a planner onboard will help with both the master plan process and with updating zoning bylaws, Manoian said.
The master plan process is about halfway through, he said.
A consultant working with the town, Courtney Starling with Community Opportunities Group, will also be on the ride.
All ages are welcome including children. Riders can drop out at any time.
To register for the May 20 ride that begins at the Nashua River Rail Trail parking lot on Park Street at 2 p.m. visit the town website at www.ayer.ma.us.
Follow Anne O'Connor on Twitter @a1oconnor.