Why is Active Transportation important to the OKI Region?
Bicycling and walking account for 11.4% of all trips
According to the 2009 National Household Transportation Survey, bicycling and walking account for 11.4% of all trips (1.0% bike and 10.4% walk)
Provide alternatives for SOV travel
Bicycling and walking provide alternatives for SOV travel
Connects with Transit
It 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.
Health and quality of life
These modes also contribute to personal health and quality of life.
At a national level, surveys consistently indicate that non-motorized modes would be used more frequently for commuting and other trip purposes, if facilities were more widely available for safe travel. In addition, the FAST Act’s emphasis on Ladders of Opportunity includes provisions that are intended to improve transportation options, redevelop communities and to expand employment opportunities, particularly for low-income individuals, minorities, and persons with disabilities. Specifically, the Act “supports efforts to increase connectivity by improving bicycle and pedestrian networks.”
While bicycling and walking are addressed together as human powered or “active” modes of travel, they do not necessarily always share facilities. Rivers, hills, railroads and interstate highways create potential barriers for bicyclists and pedestrians traveling in and through the OKI region.
Active Transportation Recommendations
Bicycle and pedestrian transportation needs were identified during the development of this plan update process. Twenty improvement projects are recommended in the fiscally constrained plan to directly address bicycle and pedestrian needs. In addition, there are a number of roadway projects which include bicycle and/or pedestrian facilities as elements of their project descriptions. To view the Bike and Pedestrian projects that are included in the 2040 Plan by interactive map or table list formats, click here and search by “Project Type.”
Bicycle trips for transportation purposes, including commuting to and from work, average four miles in length. Recreational or touring bicycle day trips can be 100 miles or more in length. OKI’s Bike Route Guide (above) includes roads and trails used and recommended by area bicyclists through an interactive map app. The Guides are also available in printed form for the City of Cincinnati; the four Ohio counties (Butler, Clermont, Hamilton and Warren); and the three northern Kentucky counties (Boone, Campbell and Kenton).
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 to almost any destination in and out of the region, on-road facilities are the primary facility for the purpose of bicycle transportation planning. This optimizes their visibility, although cyclists may be accommodated with additional road space to reduce conflicts caused by the differences in speed. Bicyclists are often prohibited by law from using sidewalks and can be a hazard to pedestrians due to the speed differential. Bicyclists and drivers of motor vehicles share travel lanes
Separate facilities, such as trails, multi-use paths or sidepaths, are designed and designated exclusively for bicycles and other non-motorized uses. These facilities are most useful for travel demand on a localized basis, such as connecting with schools or shopping areas. Trails and greenways typically serve both recreation and transportation purposes. While existing trail facilities in the OKI region, such as the Little Miami Scenic Trail, are primarily used for recreation, their value for utilitarian trips may grow as they penetrate urban areas such as the Great Miami River Trail in Hamilton and Middletown.
A multi-purpose, Regional Trails System is being developed in the OKI region. The proposed trail system is comprised of many projects that have been initiated by local or regional groups that are working toward their implementation.
Bicycles, Transit and Parking
Merging bicycle travel with transit services further enhances the potential of both modes of travel. Nationally, more than 500 transit companies have implemented bike racks on buses. Other forms of accommodation include bike parking facilities at transit stops and park and ride lots. In the OKI region, the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA Metro) was designated a bike-friendly destination in 2011, 2012 and 2013 by Queen City Bike as part of its commitment to bike commuting. Metro maintains bike facilities at two Park & Ride locations: Anderson Township has four bike lockers at the transit center adjacent to the Anderson Towne Center near the Five Mile and Beechmont Road intersection; and the Forest Park Park & Ride located on Kemper Meadow Lane in Forest Park has four bike banks for long-term parking. Metro and TANK also have bike racks on all of its bus fleet capable of holding two bicycles. In addition, when the Cincinnati Streetcar begins revenue service in September 2016, riders will be able to bring their bikes on board with them. Downtown Cincinnati has over 100 bike racks and over 500 undesignated sign poles for bike parking along Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh streets.
For safety, pedestrians are best accommodated with sidewalks placed adjacent to, but out of the roadway. While the 2009-2013 American Community Survey data reported that only 2% of the OKI population stated walking as their primary mode of travel, as street widths and the percentage of elderly persons have increased, the need for special street crossing treatments has become more critical. Increased attention for pedestrian travel is needed to help
- Eliminate injuries and fatalities caused by pedestrian and auto crashes
- Reduce congestion and motor vehicle emissions for short trips
Ongoing Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning
The 2008 OKI Regional Bicycle Plan update contains information about transportation needs for the region along with extensive recommendations for improving the safety and utilization of bicycle travel and for integrating bicycle facilities into the planning and development of the regional multimodal transportation network.
The 2004 Regional Pedestrian Plan distinguishes between the functional activities of OKI as a regional planning agency and those of the administrative functions of member local jurisdictions. In effect, the planning, programming, implementation and maintenance of pedestrian facilities happen at the local level.
Both plans also address the connection of land use to effective bicycle and pedestrian travel. The work of the OKI Land Use Commission is acknowledged by reference to the public support for alternative modes to automobile travel. Specifically, bicycling and walking were identified as priorities in the series of public visioning workshops held during the initial creation of the SRPP.
In addition, many cities, townships and counties in the region have developed a program for bicycle facilities, prepared a bikeway plan to accommodate local needs and designated a staff person to identify and coordinate projects. Ideally, these plans are part of the local transportation or land use plan. The 2010 Cincinnati Bicycle Transportation Plan forms the basis for developing a bicycle transportation system that includes bike paths, bike lanes, signed bike routes, shared lanes and wide outside lanes. Since 2009, eight communities in northeast Hamilton County have partnered to coordinate the development of bicycle facilties primarily for recreational purposes. To the extent that such local bikeways are linear or suitable for travel from one place to another, meet accepted design standards, and are regionally significant on their own or as a component of a regional facility, they may be included in OKI’s recommended regional bikeway system.
The requirements for addressing bicycle and pedestrian travel are continued in the FAST Act and related guidelines for metropolitan planning organizations. The items below are recommendations for bicycle and pedestrian improvements that have been excerpted from the OKI regional bike and pedestrian plans and the SRPP.
- Complete StreetsComplete StreetsThe initial multimodal transportation planning requirements of the ISTEA transportation bill of 1991 have been followed by subsequent federal and state guidelines that have emphasized the need to accommodate all modes in all new street construction and reconstruction. To work towards this goal, OKI developed a complete streets approach in the 2008 OKI bike plan and 2040 transportation plan. The term complete streets is used to describe streets that accommodate motorists, cyclists, pedestrians and transit riders of varying ages and abilities, while enabling all modes to safely share the existing street system with reduced conflict.
OKI’s Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) prioritization process already encourages inclusion of bicycle and pedestrian facilities through awarding bonus points for intermodal connectivity and multimodal facilities. The TIP is OKI’s collaborative program for prioritizing available federal project funds involving both local and state partners. 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.
To facilitate implementation of these recommendations for on street facilities, counties and municipalities are encouraged to develop local review processes in which the appropriate bicycle and pedestrian improvements for the context of the street are included 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 in non-freeway projects wherever practical.
- Land Use and Local DevelopmentLand UseThe OKI Land Use Commission was initiated to specifically address the interrelationships of land use and transportation. Its work has validated the SAFETEA-LU and subsequent federal legislative guidelines supporting inclusion of a balanced and diverse multimodal transportation system. The SRPP has been developed and is anticipated to encourage 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. The provision of sidewalks in developing areas eliminates the need to retrofit neighborhoods and arterial streets with sidewalks in the future. The application of access management principles during commercial development, such as minimizing curb cuts and building setbacks, reduces the number of driveway conflict points and the distance from street to building. The installation of traffic calming techniques in residential areas slows vehicular traffic and provides safer accommodations for pedestrians. Safety can also be increased by maintaining pedestrian facilities, removing debris and encroaching plant material, and repairing deteriorated paving.
- Clean AirClean AirWhile the OKI region has made progress in complying with national clean air standards, 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 partners with public planning and health agencies and private businesses dedicated to accomplishing this mission. Bicycle and pedestrian travel is encouraged by the Regional Clean Air Program both as a substitute mode for short trips and along with transit, as an alternative to auto use for reducing emissions, particularly during Air Quality Advisories.
- Transit ImprovementsTransit ImprovementsWhile walking is a component of most trips, it is a more significant component of fixed route transit trips. Therefore, pedestrian considerations are needed 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 for increasing the use of transit and carpooling, as well as reducing SOV trips. Bicycle and pedestrian connections with other alternatives to driving alone can be further facilitated 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 ProgramsEducationLocal 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 works to improve the health and physical condition of children and reduce traffic and vehicle emissions around schools. Education programs to encourage walking may be undertaken by local governments partnering with school districts and health departments for a variety of objectives such as reducing school vehicular traffic, improving air quality and personal fitness.
- Funding for Bicycle and Pedestrian ImprovementsFundingMost 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 use of gasoline tax or license fee revenues for such facilities.
Local governments use a variety of different funding methods to construct or otherwise 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 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 Clean Ohio Trails program is funded with state bonds and administered by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.