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Monday, July 23, 2007

Columbus Bikeway Master Plan

Columbus needs as much input as we can give in order to show public interest in cycling as a transportation alternative. If you haven’t already, please fill out the survey at the link below. The survey ends July 31. Thanks.



http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=169533864164



Columbus Bikeway Master Plan

Convenient and safer commuter, business and recreational bicycling in Columbus, Ohio, may soon be a reality with implementation of the Columbus Bikeway Master Plan. The plan will update existing bicycle facilities in the city and identify, evaluate, prioritize and recommend future connecting links within and connecting to the city. The goal is to develop a complete system using shared-use paths and on-street bikeways.

Most existing Columbus bikeways are off-road trails used primarily for recreation. A more comprehensive network of on-street bike lanes is needed to encourage commuter and business use. The existing network, which originated in the 1960s, will be appraised to determine gaps, barriers and bottlenecks that prevent cyclists from traveling to destinations within a neighborhood, throughout the city and to connecting points within the regional bikeway system.

The plan will reinforce one of the City of Columbus’ Get Green Columbus initiatives, to encourage mobility alternatives that decrease dependence on petroleum-based fuels while improving outdoor air quality. US Census Bureau transportation data indicates that bicycle use declined in Columbus between 1990 and 2000. The Columbus Bikeway Master Plan is one effort designed to reverse that trend.

A creative direction will be established by reviewing existing plans, goals and objectives in Columbus. These include bicycle policies in the Columbus Comprehensive Plan, Columbus Bicycle Advisory Committee, Downtown Bikeway Connector, Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission’s (MORPC) Best Practices, Regional Bikeway Plan, Protocols for Regional Cooperation, Downtown Columbus Circulation Study and various neighborhood and area plans. Goals and policies from communities similar to Columbus plus trend-setting areas in bikeway planning such as Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, Phoenix, Boulder and 20 other communities will be used for comparison. Policies from national organizations such as the National Recreation & Park Association; American Planning Association; Rails-to-Trails Conservancy; Bicycle Federation of America; Institute of Transportation Engineers; American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials; Ohio Department of Transportation; Federal Highway Administration and others will be considered.

The current network will be assessed for:

· Accessibility from points of origin

· Comfort level of streets used in terms of vehicle traffic, crossing protection, lane width, driveways, man-made and natural barriers and other items

· Topography and grades

· Support facilities such as benches, drinking fountains and bicycle-storage facilities at major destinations

Recommended bikeway improvements will likely include:

· New or relocated bicycle routes, lanes or paths

· Crossing protection (loop detectors, signals, signs, lighting)

· Support facilities (racks on buses, lockers, showers, parking facilities)

· Changes in roadway striping and signage for existing/proposed facilities

· Paving, grate replacement and shoulder widening for existing/proposed facilities

· On-street parking changes for existing/proposed facilities

· Zoning changes/additions and performance standards

· Improved maintenance program

· Access to local and regional transit and commuter rails

Education and public awareness will build on what the City of Columbus has already created, resulting in a customized bicycle safety, marketing and education handbook that identifies existing local and regional efforts and presents a standardized approach. Marketing strategies include logo and signage, fairs, races, employer incentives and route “adoption” by community groups.

The project is a collaborative effort involving the City of Columbus and MORPC along with the consultant team of Burgess & Niple and Alta Planning + Design. Based in San Francisco, Alta is a nationally recognized firm for bicycle, pedestrian and trail planning and has completed more than 200 plans nationwide. They have designed and implemented over 2,000 miles of innovative bikeways, including a recently completed bikeway plan for OSU. Alta has helped communities acquire more than $30 million in funding.

The stakeholder group held its kickoff meeting in June 2007 and included representatives from government, Central Ohio Transit Authority, bicycle-community interests, environmental organizations and private individuals. The group will advise the City of Columbus, MORPC and the consultant team of regional bicycle issues and how to properly plan for cyclists of all skill levels. Stakeholders are encouraged to participate in public meetings and provide input through an online survey available on the project website: www.altaplanning.com/columbus. Project documents and presentation materials are also on the site.

A public workshop will be held September 26, 2007, where representatives from the City of Columbus, MORPC and the consultant team will provide an overview of existing and proposed facilities followed by a breakout session where small groups can formulate ideas then present them to all in attendance. The proposed plan will be presented at a December 2007 public open house.

For more information on the Columbus Bikeway Master Plan, contact Steve Tweed, Columbus bikeway project manager, 614-645-7488 or Bernice Cage, Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission 614-228-2663 .

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