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City seeks input on pedestrian, bike, bus routes

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Alton Strupp | The Republic   Columbus bus patrons wait before the 12 p.m. bus run at the new terminal located at the eastside of Mills Race Park Tuesday afternoon.
Alton Strupp | The Republic Columbus bus patrons wait before the 12 p.m. bus run at the new terminal located at the eastside of Mills Race Park Tuesday afternoon.

City officials said they plan to introduce some traffic changes — including more bus routes, plus bicycle and pedestrian lanes — to increase public health and safety and to make the city’s transportation infrastructure more efficient.

But first they want residents’ input.

The city will conduct public workshops from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday in The Commons to seek input from

residents about how the city can best accommodate vehicles of all types, pedestrians of all ages and abilities and cyclists of all skill levels.

For many years, a lot of cities have focused solely on accommodating motor vehicles, but Columbus wants to ensure it provides services to people who use other means of transportation, said Laurence Brown, director of the Columbus Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.

City Engineer Dave Hayward, who rides his bike to work for most of the year, said communities are taking new approaches to making transportation systems more friendly to all participants, and Columbus must discuss how it wants its residents to get around in the future.

City officials want to improve the transportation experience for all participants: Bus riders could see additional routes, including Westhill Shopping Center and even Woodside Industrial Park, while traffic islands could make it easier for pedestrians to cross busy roads.

Clearly marked bike lanes would improve cycling safety and possibly encourage more people to ride bikes to work or to nearby shops. And motorists could enjoy roads with fewer vehicles, fewer red lights and more available parking spaces.

A lot of the potential changes cost relatively little and could be achieved with existing resources, Hayward said.

Safety is a key aspect, Brown said.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the chance of a person dying from being struck by a vehicle increases the faster a vehicle is traveling. Pedestrians struck by vehicles traveling at 20 mph have a 95 percent chance of surviving; those struck at 40 mph have a 20 percent chance; pedestrians struck at speeds more than 50 mph have a 0 percent chance, the department said.

When the city installed bike lanes on Gladstone Avenue between 10th and 17th streets and narrowed the car lanes from 20 feet to about 14 feet, motorists slowed down by an average 5 mph, Hayward said. The posted speed limit on that stretch is 30 mph, but people were driving at 32 to 47 mph. Since the installation of the bike lanes, drivers have slowed to about 30 to 32 mph.

He said part of the discussions will focus on where some of the changes make the most sense. Adding bike lanes and removing car lanes on busy streets, for example, would make less sense than adopting a similar approach for streets in residential areas.

Consulting firms will provide the city this summer with suggestions about how to make the local transportation system more complete, meaning accessible and usable by everyone. The city is paying $177,000 for three studies related to the State Street corridor, the bike and pedestrian plan expansion and the transit improvement plan. Most of the money came from local property taxes, although some is from the federal government.

To further gauge the Columbus community’s opinions about the local transportation infrastructure, the city is conducting an online survey, which can be accessed at survey


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