Support for Active Transportation Raises Quality of Life
Bicycling and walking make up a relatively small portion of commuting activity. But these non-motorized travel modes play important roles within our region’s transportation system. Bicycling and walking expand transportation options when they are supported by infrastructure; they may also complement other forms of transportation by supplementing segments of trips.
Why is Active Transportation Important to the OKI Region?
- According to the 2017 National Household Transportation Survey, bicycling and walking account for 11.5 percent of all trips (1 percent bike, 10.5 percent walk).
- Bicycling and walking provide alternatives for single-occupant vehicle (SOV) travel.
- Active transportation is a means of connecting with transit.
- This type of travel helps reduce congestion, fuel consumption and vehicle emissions, especially valuable for replacing short distance auto trips, which have the highest rate of emissions.
- These modes also contribute to personal health and quality of life.
- At a national level, surveys show that non-motorized modes would be used more often for commuting and other trip purposes, if facilities were more widely available for safe travel.
Active Transportation Recommendations
Bicycle and pedestrian transportation needs were identified while developing the plan’s update process. 28 projects, totaling nearly $200 million are recommended in the fiscally constrained plan to directly address the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians. In addition, there are a number of roadway projects that include bicycle and/or pedestrian facilities as elements of their project descriptions. To view the bike and pedestrian projects in the 2050 Plan by interactive map or table list formats and search by “Project Type.”
Bicycle trips for transportation purposes, including commuting to and from work, average four miles per trip. Recreational or touring bicycle day trips can cover 100 miles or more.
Bicycle facilities are grouped into two categories: on-road facilities and separate facilities
Since the existing roadway network can be used by bicyclists to travel anywhere in and out of the region, on-road facilities are the primary location for bicycle transportation planning. This optimizes their visibility, although cyclists may be provided more road space to reduce conflicts caused by the differences in speed. Bicyclists are often prohibited by law from using sidewalks, as they can be a hazard to pedestrians due to the speed differential. Bicyclists and motorists share travel lanes and must interact together on the roadway, including at intersections and driveway locations. As bicycles fall under the definition of vehicles under state laws, cyclists are entitled to use the roads and required to comply with appropriate traffic laws.
Separate facilities, such as trails, shared-use paths or sidepaths, are designed and designated exclusively for bicycles and other non-motorized uses. These facilities are most useful for local travel demand, such as linking to schools or shopping areas. Trails and greenways typically serve recreation and transportation uses. Existing trail facilities in the OKI region, such as the Little Miami Scenic Trail, are primarily used for recreation. But their value for utilitarian trips may grow as they reach urban areas, such as the Great Miami River Trail in the cities of Hamilton and Middletown. A multi-purpose, regional trails system is being developed in the OKI region. The system comprises many projects already initiated by local and regional groups working toward their fruition.
Bicycles, Transit and Parking
Merging bicycle travel with transit services enhances the potential of both modes of travel. Nationally, more than 500 transit companies now have bike racks on buses. Other amenities include bike parking facilities at transit stops and Park & Ride lots. Metro maintains bike facilities at four Park & Ride locations: Anderson Center Station, Forest Park, Oakley Transit Center, and Madeira. Another will open in summer 2020 at the Northside Transit Center. Metro and TANK also have bike racks on all of their fleet buses capable of holding two bicycles. And the Cincinnati Streetcar lets riders bring their bikes on board. Downtown Cincinnati has more than 100 bike racks and more than 500 undesignated sign poles for bike parking along Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh streets.
• Red Bike, which arrived in September 2014, is a bike sharing system in the Cincinnati area. It has 59 stations and more than 500 bikes.
• River Cities is a seasonal bike share program that connects the downtown areas of Aurora and Lawrenceburg (both Indiana) via the Dearborn Trail.
Lime and Bird e-scooters arrived in September 2018. They are another active transportation option and ideal for short trips, with a typical ride lasting about 10 to 15 minutes.
For safety, pedestrians are best protected when sidewalks are placed adjacent to the roadway. The 2014 American Community Survey data found that 5.4 percent of workers listed walking as their primary mode of travel to work. Increased attention to pedestrian travel is needed to help reduce injuries and fatalities. Sidewalks, proper lighting and marked crosswalks are several ways to improve pedestrian safety.
Ongoing Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning
The requirements for addressing bicycle and pedestrian travel are continued in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST) and related guidelines for metropolitan planning organizations.
OKI’s Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) prioritization process already encourages inclusion of bicycle and pedestrian facilities by awarding points for intermodal connectivity and multimodal facilities. The TIP is OKI’s collaborative program for prioritizing federal capital funds on a competitive basis for such projects in the region. Provisions for complete streets have been incorporated into the TIP process to consider appropriate facilities for accommodating bicyclists, pedestrians and transit riders of all abilities, in addition to motorists.
Moreover, facilities, counties and municipalities are encouraged to develop local review processes that include compatible bicycle and pedestrian improvements within the context of the street, from the beginning of the project development process. In addition, OKI and state transportation agencies are encouraged to review the potential for bicycle and pedestrian facilities, wherever practical, in non-freeway projects.
Land Use and Local Development
The OKI Land Use Commission was formed to address the interrelationships of land use and transportation. It supports the inclusion of a balanced and diverse multimodal transportation system. The OKI Strategic Regional Policy Plan has been developed and encourages higher densities, mixed use development, interconnected street systems and facilities to accommodate travel by transit, bicycling and walking. This is to be carried out through a partnership with OKI and local planning agencies.
Bicycle and pedestrian improvements are most efficiently implemented as land is initially developed. Including sidewalks in developing areas eliminates the need to retrofit neighborhoods and arterial streets with them later. Applying access management principles during development, such as minimizing curb cuts and building setbacks, reduces the number of driveway conflict points and shortens the distance from street to building. The installation of traffic calming techniques slows vehicular traffic and provides safer areas for pedestrians. Safety can also be increased by maintaining pedestrian facilities, removing debris and encroaching plant material, and repairing deteriorated paving.
To get bicycle and pedestrian planning recommendations implemented, local governments are encouraged to integrate them into their transportation and land use plans, local zoning and subdivision regulations, county thoroughfare plans, capital improvement plans, and reviews of major development proposals.
Image credit: Neyer Properties
Clean Air Program
The OKI region continues to make progress in complying with national clean air standards; however, more stringent ozone and particulate matter standards will require dedicated application of available emission reduction practices to achieve compliance. OKI’s Regional Clean Air Program continues to partner with public planning and health agencies, as well as private businesses, to accomplish this mission. The Regional Clean Air Program encourages bicycle and pedestrian travel, both as substitute modes for short trips; and, along with transit, as an alternative to auto use for reducing emissions, particularly during air quality advisories.
While walking is a component of most trips, it is a more significant conveyance of fixed-route transit trips. Therefore, pedestrian considerations are critical while planning for transit service. Transit service providers are encouraged to ensure that all stops, hubs and park and rides be accessible by sidewalks. Improved connectivity of these facilities has the potential to increase transit and carpooling usage, as well as reduce SOV trips. Bicycle and pedestrian connections with other alternatives to driving alone can be further encouraged by shelters along transit routes, lockers at transit stations, bike racks at bus stops and park and ride lots, and bus-mounted bike racks.
Education and Enforcement Programs
Local governments can undertake education and enforcement programs to encourage more, and safer, walking and cycling in the community. Communities are encouraged to participate in the Safe Routes To School program. The intent of the program is to have more school children walking to school, instead of being driven in their family car. This program’s goal is to improve the health and physical condition of children; and to reduce traffic and vehicle emissions near schools. Education programs to encourage walking may be undertaken by local governments partnering with school districts and health departments for a variety of objectives, including reducing school vehicular traffic, improving air quality and encouraging personal fitness.
Funding for Bicycle and Pedestrian Improvements
Most federal highway and transit funding sources may be used for bicycle and pedestrian projects. Many bicycle and pedestrian improvements are most effectively implemented as an integral part of roadway or transit project funding and construction. However, the construction of regional off-road trails is highly dependent on local initiative and commitment, due to restrictions prohibiting a state gasoline tax or license fee revenues for such facilities.
Local governments use a variety of funding methods to build and help implement bicycle and pedestrian facilities, such as obtaining private funding from adjacent property owners and partnering with park districts.
Special projects to improve existing roadways or extend the off-road trail system may be more appropriately funded with Transportation Alternative (TA) funds. A wide variety of projects are funded through TA, including those that support non-motorized travel through OKI’s capital funding application process.
In addition, there are other federal, state and private sources available that may be suitable for specific local projects, such the Clean Ohio Trails program. The program is funded with state bonds and administered by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.