Active Transportation

Support for Active Transportation Raises Quality of Life

Bicycling and walking make up a small portion of commuting activity. But these nonmotorized travel modes play important roles within our region’s transportation system.

Infrastructure that supports bicycling and walking expands transportation options and may complement other forms of transportation by supplementing segments of trips.

Why is Active Transportation Important to the OKI Region?

  • According to the 2022 American Commuting Survey, bicycling and walking account for 2% of the OKI Region’s commuters
  • Bicycling and walking provide alternatives for single occupancy vehicle (SOV) travel
  • 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.

Active Transportation Recommendations

Bicycle and pedestrian transportation needs were identified during the update process. 41 improvement projects are recommended in the fiscally constrained plan to directly address bicycle and pedestrian needs.

In addition, there are 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 Update by interactive map or table list formats and search by “Project Type.”

Bicycling

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

On-Road Facilities

Since the existing roadway network can be used by bicyclists to travel almost anywhere 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 and must interact with each other on the roadway, including at intersections and driveways. As bicycles are included in the definition of vehicles under state laws, cyclists are entitled to use the roads and must comply with appropriate traffic laws.

Separate Facilities

Separate facilities — such as trails, multi-use paths or side-paths — 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. Existing trail facilities in the OKI region, such as the Little Miami Scenic Trail, are primarily used for recreation. Yet, their value for utilitarian trips may grow as they penetrate urban areas, such as the Great Miami River Trail in Hamilton and Middletown.

Bicycles, Transit and Parking

Merging bicycle travel with transit services enhances the potential of both modes of travel. Nearly all transit companies now have bike racks on buses. Other forms of accommodation include bike parking facilities at transit stops and park and ride lots.

Bike Share

Red Bike
• Red Bike started in September 2014 and is a bike sharing system in the Cincinnati area that has 72 stations and over 800 bikes. 

River Cities
• River Cities is a seasonal bike share program that connects the downtown areas of Aurora and Lawrenceburg (both Indiana) via the Dearborn Trail.

Electric Scooters

Electric scooters are another active transportation option for short trips. They are not designed to get extremely far and are typically used for 10-15 minutes. 

Pedestrian Facilities

For safety, pedestrians are best accommodated with sidewalks placed adjacent to, but out of the roadway.

Increased attention to pedestrian travel is needed to help eliminate injuries and fatalities. Sidewalks, marked crosswalks and lighting are ways to improve pedestrian safety.

Ongoing Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning

Metropolitan planning organization requirements for addressing bicycle and pedestrian travel are amplified in the latest Transportation bill. Section 11206 (Increasing Safe and Accessible Transportation Options) of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) (Public Law 117-58), also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) requires investment in planning for vulnerable road users. It also provides planning and capital funding through the Safe Streets for All program (SS4A).

OKI’s Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) prioritization process already encourages inclusion of bicycle and pedestrian facilities through awarding 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. OKI adopted a Complete Streets Policy in November 2022.

To administer these recommendations for on street facilities, counties and municipalities are required to consider inclusion of appropriate bicycle and pedestrian elements as part of the project planning process.

Land Use and Local Development

The OKI Land Use Commission was formed to address the interrelationships of land use and transportation. Its work has supported the inclusion of a balanced and diverse multimodal transportation system. The Strategic Regional Policy Plan (SRPP) has been developed and is anticipated to encourage higher densities, mixed-use development, interconnected street systems and facilities to aid 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 applied 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. Adding 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 vegetation and repairing deteriorated paving.

For bicycle and pedestrian planning recommendations to be 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.

Transit Improvements

While 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 are 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

Source: Metro

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. This is due to restrictions prohibiting the 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 getting 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 and Congestion Management and Air Quality (CMAQ.) A wide variety of projects are funded through TA including those that support non-motorized travel through OKI’s application process. New BIL programs support investments in bike/ped projects, including Safe Streets for All, the Carbon Reduction Program.

 

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