The folks at the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) are making noises like they want to begin making Ohio a bike/pedestrian friendly sort of place.
If they are serious, then they need to start by making the Statewide Bike/Ped Coordinator a serious position by giving the next person to fill this empty slot real responsibilities. They need to give the Statewide Bike/Ped Coordinator a serious agenda. And they need to give the agenda serious support.
Along those lines, Bike, Walk Ohio! a new statewide bike/ped advocacy organization has proposed to ODOT Director Jolene Molitoris an agenda to improve conditions for bicycling and walking as transportation:
1. Create an Office of Active Transportation:
- Appoint the Statewide Bike/Ped Coordinator to head up this new Office of Active Transportation and put the Office on a par with all the other modes including rail, bus, air and highway.
- Assign to the Office of Active Transportation a staff of engineers experienced in bike/ped friendly road design to review all major projects for compliance with Complete Streets policy and practice.
- Include an expanded, state-funded Safe Routes to School program.
2. Fully commit to a policy and practice of building Complete Streets:
- Adopt a model Complete Streets policy to replace the sham "routine accommodation" policy adopted April 26, 2005 [to learn more about Complete Streets go to here]
- Create a Complete Streets engineering manual for bike/ped facilities and provide ODOT engineers and outside consultants with education and training on the bike/ped facilities manual as well as on "road diets".
- Provide regular FHWA-funded "Peer-to-Peer" conferences to take engineers to bike/ped friendly cities to show them how it is being done around the country and how to do it here in Ohio.
- Abolish the "85th percentile" rule which gives speeding motorists the power to set speed limits on our neighborhood and community streets without regard to the needs of other roadway users and replace it with rational, uniform standards based on the type of neighborhood.
- Develop new TRAC project selection standards to favor reduction in Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT), maximizing energy efficiency, reduction in greenhouse gas/carbon emissions, reduction in air pollution, promotion of compact/efficient land use, and enhancement of local economic development.
- Prohibit the use of federal or state funding for SPUIs and other types of bridges and overpasses that marginalize bicycling and walking.
3. Develop a comprehensive, statewide bike/ped action plan:
- Commission an outside consultant to lead the creation of a detailed, comprehensive statewide public-involvement process leading to an action plan to make Ohio bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly.
- Commit to achieving platinum-level "Bicycle Friendly Community" status for the State of Ohio within 10 years.
- Make the Ohio corridors on the U.S. Bicycle Route System bike friendly.
4. Provide state resources to invest in and expand the Safe Routes to School Program:
- Commit to creating a built environment that encourages active transportation and removes barriers to kids developing active healthy habits of biking and walking.
- Make Safe Routes to School through the 5-Es (Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, and Evaluation) a high priority to teach a whole new generation to make bicycling and walking a part of their everyday lives.
- Insist that Safe Routes to School programs be available to every school from pre-kindergarten through high school.
- Join the fight against the inactivity/obesity epidemic and the metabolic syndrome that causes diabetes, asthma, and heart disease.
- Partner with all Safe Communities programs or other agencies around the state implementing the Statewide Physical Activity Plan created by the Ohio Healthy Lifestyles consortium.
5. Make traffic justice for the most vulnerable roadway users a top priority:
- Use a fair share of HSIP and 402 funding -- commensurate with the ratio of traffic deaths of bicyclists and pedestrians to traffic deaths overall -- to implement NHTSA guidelines for bicycling and walking safety.
- Insist that motorist license education and testing include a meaningful amount of attention to the traffic rules related to bicycling and walking
- Financially support local bicyclist education programs such as the Smart Cycling program of the League of American Bicyclists
- Financially support Share the Road campaigns to get motorists and bicyclists to safely share the road together.
- Support efforts to increase penalties for traffic violations that lead to the death or injury of the most vulnerable roadway users.
- Make bicyclist and pedestrian safety a true priority in the state's strategic highway safety plan
This is only a broad outline of the essential agenda. There are probably more items that should be a part of the Statewide Bike/Ped Coordinator's mission and goals. We welcome any and all suggestions.
John Gideon Bike, Walk Ohio!