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Marty Shukert doesn’t even live in Mason City but he’s probably accomplished something no resident has ever done.

“I’ve ridden every street in the city on a bicycle,” said Shukert, a consultant with RDG Planning & Design, Omaha, which is working with the city on a new master plan for a bicycle/pedestrian trail system.

He has also taken 2,400 photographs of city streets.

“I always have to remember to get street signs in the pictures or else I wind up with thousands of pictures and don’t know what they’re of,” he said.

He categorizes all the photos and files them for reference when he needs them.

Shukert said in his photos he pays attention to many factors, including street widths, parking and adjoining land use.

He has been working with Development Services Director Steven J. Van Steenhuyse and other city officials in developing the master plan.

Last week, he said, he was biking in Mason City and was to meet Van Steenhuyse at City Hall so they could go biking together.

“I was at Best Buy and made it to City Hall in 12 minutes,” he said.

Van Steenhuyse said, “That’s faster than anyone could do it in a car.”

Shukert said he went from Ninth Street to Taft, from Taft to Briarstone and followed a fairly direct route without hitting a single stoplight.

The city and RDG conducted a community meeting earlier this year in which they showed maps of possible trails and got input from residents.

Since that time, they have held four neighborhood meetings to get more suggestions.

The next step is for RDG to present some ideas to a local steering committee in August and hold another public presentation in September.

“Every city has its own problems and opportunities,” said Shukert.

“One of the things I’ve noticed about Mason City is the number of people for which bicycling is their basic means of transportation — and I’m talking about people of all ages,” he said.

“Mason City has some unbelievable opportunities — and some significant barriers, such as the railroads.”

Van Steenhuyse said public comments are still welcome and can be conveyed via the Internet at www.activatemasoncity.com.

So far, nearly 300 people have commented — a terrific response for a city the size of Mason City, said Shukert.


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