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Report Says Columbus is Second Largest City with no Downtown Bike Lanes

Walker Evans Walker Evans Report Says Columbus is Second Largest City with no Downtown Bike Lanes
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A new national report from the Alliance for Biking and Walking shows that Columbus has maintained it’s rank in 40th place out of the 51 largest US cities when analyze miles of bike infrastructure. The “Bicycling and Walking in the U.S.:2012 Benchmarking Report” also reveals that Columbus is now the second largest US city without any on-street bike lanes Downtown.

“The City of Columbus has demonstrated great enlightenment and commitment to developing bicycle infrastructure in the past 3 years via the Bicentennial Bikeways Plan,” says Doug Morgan, Board President of Consider Biking. “The Benchmarking Report reinforces the economic and health benefits of facilitating bicycling; we’re concerned that our competition is moving much faster than us.”

The report does show that Columbus is ranked a bit better at providing bike trail facilities, such as the Alum Creek Trail and Olentangy Bikeway. And while Columbus doesn’t have bike-dedicated lanes running through Downtown, it does have a sharrow system on several Downtown streets.

“A much greater investment is needed in biking and walking to increase active transportation,” says Jeffrey Miller, Alliance President and CEO. “The Benchmarking Report shows that biking and walking are smart and cost-effective solutions that will pay for themselves many times over in healthcare savings and impact on local economies.”

The report shows a direct link between high levels of bike transportation infrastructure and a lower obesity rates. The average number of on-road bike lanes for a US city is 134 miles, and Columbus currently has 20 miles.

In a response to this report, Consider Biking is launching a new “Connect the Core” Campaign that will increase the priority of adding 12 miles of bike lanes to Downtown Columbus. This plan was laid out in 2008 with the adoption of the Bicentennial Bikeways Plan.

“Cities across the country have proven that prioritizing the installation of bike lanes in their downtowns, have resulted in more people bicycling, and subsequent increases in safety for all road users,” says Bryan Saums, Program Manager of Consider Biking. “Downtown bike lanes have made those communities more economically vibrant and livable.”

The Benchmark Report provides additional data to support these claims. It says that providing bike lane s can increase bicycle ridership, improve bike rider safety, improve public health, and provide three dollars of benefit for every dollar invested.

To view the full report visit www.PeoplePoweredMovement.org.

CLICK HERE to view more information on Consider Biking’s Connect the Core campaign.

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  • gorkon

    I like that they are adding bike lanes, but I think more trails are needed for sure.  That and most of the places they are putting bike lanes don’t make a lot of sense.  Some of the places they are putting them are on such dangerous roads that have tons of traffic.  It’s nice that they are there, but they aren’t being used an awful lot because they are not convenient or even safe.

  • Asch

    Bike Trails are generally for play and should be an issue with the parks department. Bike lanes are for transportation and should be integrated into any plan that deals with roads or public transportation. They aren’t for recreation they are for the further development of our city, road decongestion and public health. 

    I agree, though, they need to make sure the lanes are placed where people will actually use them, especially at first when people aren’t used to on street riding at all.

  • gorkon

    I happen to disagree.  Bike Trails can be a good way to commute.  The Alum Creek trail goes from Westerville to Three Creeks Metro park and travels through Easton so you could definitely use this as a way to get to work.  Plus more are being developed.  People WILL use Bike trails to get back and forth to work and for recreation but only if they feel safe.  Riding on Karl Road next to the speeding cars and suv’s doesn’t feel to safe to me….even if I DID ride every day to work.

  • stephentszuter

    i think both sharrows and bike lanes are nice. bike lanes are a little more effective, i think. they may remind more drivers that bikers are out there, so be careful.
    i would definitely support a tax increase to pay for bike lanes.
    AND THEN RAIL. sorry. had to say it.

  • jpizzow

    2nd largest w/o bike lanes. Largest w/o passenger rail. Largest in Ohio w/o arts funding. Not a good theme. Sounds like we have some work to do.

    Although they do help and are a start, I’m not a big fan of sharrows. It’s just not safe enough and causes too much conflict between drivers and bikers. I’m not advocating to get rid of them, but they should be the “alternative” to dedicated bike lanes. There are plenty of roads downtown and around that have room to support dedicated bike lanes. And damnit, where are our bike stations?

  • lizless

    Asch January 24, 2012 9:35 am
    “Bike Trails are generally for play and should be an issue with the parks department. Bike lanes are for transportation and should be integrated into any plan that deals with roads or public transportation. They aren’t for recreation they are for the further development of our city, road decongestion and public health. ”

  • I get the feeling that this report is making us feel “dirtier” than we should. Dedicated bike lanes are one solution to the issue of bike infrastructure, and not necessarily the best solution for every area of every city. I don’t think bike lanes would be a good fit for High Street, but possibly a good solution for other Downtown streets.

    It sounds like this study doesn’t factor sharrows into the equation at all, which I do think help raise awareness for road sharing between cars and bikes. If those were considered in the metrics of this study, then Columbus might fare a bit better.

    Anyway, I guess my point is that we should install bike lanes in places where they are deemed a worthy solution, and not install them simply to look better for the 2013 edition of this specific study.

  • You mean those 10′-12′ wide things in downtown aren’t bike lanes? ;)

  • Cole

    I disagree with the viewpoint that bike paths are for recreational purposes. If I had a bike path for commuting that would lead me to work I would choose it over regular surface streets.
    Secondly, I’ve looked through the report and there is no obvious study on downtown bikeways. As best as I can tell, Dallas is stated as having 0 miles of bike lanes. In that sense, Dallas is a larger city without any bike lanes, thus you can make an argument that Dallas is the largest city without bike lanes downtown. I question the statistic that “Columbus is the second largest city with no downtown bike lanes” and it would be nice to know exactly how Consider Biking teased the statistic out of the report.

  • The report is designed to spark a (renewed) purpose and energy towards transit change. You feel dirty because we are dirty. An apologist stance in the face of the facts sends a clear message that borders on apathy. I get that you have to maintain neutrality, Walker, but c’mon. We need to speak up or the change that would signal actual *growth* for this city will never happen.
    The absence of bike lanes, like our antiquated transit system (another thread, I know), is a signpost. The message? That Columbus is (for now) an okay place to live, not a great place to live and not a place I feel proud of. I ride through downtown on High Street every day and the major sections of that particular roadway are laughably wide (as mentioned) and would easily accommodate a bike lane. The ride north into the Short North is never a fun one, and I’d love to see a feasibility study on getting a dedicated lane in there.
    I applaud the work that my friends at Consider Biking are doing, and it gives me hope that we can see this thing through. I hope to be at the Connect the Core meetup on the 2nd (um, shouldn’t it be downtown? ;)

  • Is there really room for a lane on N High through the SN? Remember, you have to accommodate metered parking to generate turnover for business, buses, bikes and regular traffic. Bikes and bike infrastructure can not be done in a vacuum. All modes of transportation have to work cohesively together to achieve a common goal.

  • Kevin – I’m not apologizing for a lack of infrastructure. Just rationally questioning the methodology of the study. If this were a study about rail infrastructure, but only counted streetcars and not heavy rail, subways, trolleys or monorails, then I’d say it’s flawed too.

    Anyway, I shared some other thoughts on where I’d personally like to see Downtown bike lanes, here: http://www.columbusunderground.com/forums/topic/where-would-you-put-12-miles-of-bike-lanes-downtown/page/2#post-414735

  • cyclist II

    Downtown is littered with bike lanes. They even have bike traffic signals, turn lanes. Long St is five bike lanes wide. There’s a bike bridge with three bike lanes connecting Summit St to 3rd St. The downtown bike lanes connect in all directions to all the neighborhood bike lanes.

  • Mattattack

    More bike infrastructure is better than less, but the problem with bike lanes, as opposed to sharrows, is that they suggest to many motorists that cyclists are only allowed in the bike lane.

  • ^ Which is one of my main contentions with bike lanes and their proponents. When the W. Broad lanes were proposed, fought and ultimately put in I was constantly asking about the educational side of the issue. What mechanism is going to be in place to instruct drivers and cyclists how to use them? I see cyclists going the wrong way, I see drivers using the bike lanes as their own personal lane rather than use the 1 car lane for 2 blocks before the road widens back out to 2 travel lanes. Whenever I mentioned education, I was scoffed at by many of the proponents and labeled an elitist.
    The people crying the loudest for bike lanes through downtown need to stop and consider how good they have it in terms of cycling here. Are we a top city for cycling-no, not in the least and there is much work to be done. That said, Columbus has a lot going for it in terms of cycling. Relatively flat geography, a decent year round climate (Minneapolis, I believe, boasts more mode split in winter than we do in summer) and an urban core that has a vast network of secondary roads that provide a fairly reasonable option to bike off main roads.

  • jmathews5

    Cole – let me answer your ‘statistic’ question.
    Go here and you’ll find the top 15 cities by population and rank:  http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0763098.html
    We are # 15.  Every city above us has bike infrastructure in their downtown, urban areas except Dallas.  If you need proof of this, look up every city’s Bicycle Master Plan as I did and you’ll see.  We state that Columbus is the 2nd largest city out of the top 15 b/c we ARE the 15th most populated city.
    Any other concerns about stats, I’ll be happy to answer or guide you towards more proof.
    Why are other cities flourishing with increasing bicycle ridership??  They have infrastructure.  When people tell me that they want to bike but don’t b/c their afraid, that’s an issue.  When they state that they would get on the roads if there were bike lanes, that’s something to listen to.  Is Columbus flat – yes.  Do we have many alternate roads with less traffic, sure but a lot of you responding on here are cyclists that will ride with traffic and could care less if we have bike lanes or not.  The fact is, the want / need for better bike lanes isn’t for you.  They are for a lot more people who would try it, who may want to commute but don’t.  I want bike lanes for those people.  Let’s not forget that while you may be immune to it, there still IS a culture of fear when it comes to bicycling.

  • How many of those people have you taken out on a ride and taught how to ride with traffic?


    I, as a cyclist, would whole-heartedly support bike lanes. Provided they were designed well, lived up to the claims of offering a safe ride and truly transformed our urban streetscapes and mobility options. From the examples we have in Columbus, I don’t hold my breath.

  • Off that population list, take a look at the types of infrastructure some of those cities are implementing:
    New York


  • Cole

    I did not focus on whether bike lanes were necessary or not. Instead, I focused on the statistic that a “Report says Columbus is [the] second largest city with no downtown bike lanes” which Consider Biking helped promote. According to your statements, the report does not state that. Instead, Consider Biking has extrapolated data from the report to determine that Columbus is the second largest city without bike lanes.
    Overall, I disagree with this assertion. I do agree that Columbus should do better with bicycle infrastructure. If you want to see my lengthy reply, feel free to check my blog for an in-depth post of why I believe that Columbus is the 4th or 5th largest city without bike lanes downtown.

  • Molly

    This study is right to focus on bike lanes rather than sharrow lanes. The sharrow lanes painted around the city last year were aggravatingly pathetic bandaids to the problem of Columbus streets being hostile to bikers. In Chicago, when bike lanes aren’t formally painted, sharrow lanes along the right side of the road create a space intended for bikers. The Columbus sharrow lanes are right in the center of the road. No speed limit adjustments, no speed bumps to get cars to slow down, nothing to make the city safer for bikes. When I am biking the last thing I want to do is get right out in the middle of the street in front of cars, who actually honk from behind me because I’m going too slow. We need a dedicated space on the side of the road to be safer, and we need enforcement of lower speed limits on any streets we want to direct bikers onto.

    As for trails, sure they’re nice if you’re commuting long distances, but for intercity traffic, and regular daily trips they are not a solution, and they do not encourage choosing biking over driving, if you’re going from, for example, Italian Village to Pearl Market.

    Also, Columbus needs to get rid of the one-way streets downtown that create highway conditions hostile to bikers and pedestrians crossing. There’s so little traffic down there, do we really need four lanes encouraging cars to go 40+ miles an hour down Long or Spring?

    This city is addicted to fossil fuels, and its lack of public transportation, and shameful position on this list of bike-friendly major cities confirms it. This should be a call to action.

  • Chicago’s mayor has committed to 100 miles of protected bike lanes.  It’s great to see some urgency in improving conditions for cycling.  I’m fortunate to be managing the design of quite a few miles.

  • jbgecko13

    For all the readers.  After living in Germany for 4 years I think they really had a great idea.  they separated the sidewalks into a bike lane and a walking lane.  In Columbus and the surrounding suburbs there is a lot of unused sidewalk space.  What really intrigues me is that Columbus overid the state law to forbid riding on sidewalks.  in some areas I think this would be a great idea and in others the marked streets are fine.  Morse rd is the perfect example.  it has perfect sidewalks for its entire length yet they created risky bike lanes on a 45mph roadway.  Riding on roads that have a 35 mph speed limit seems pretty straight forward unless its high street cause it is just crazy with buses and parked cars.  All in all Columbus has quite a bit of work to do to become a bike city, but I don’t mind helping out at all since I live here as well.

  • Confused by what you mean by “override the state law”? In 2006 a bill was passed that clarified Ohio cycling laws by making the laws far more uniform across the board. Prior to ’06 it was possible to ride from say Whitehall to Downtown Columbus and somewhere along the way break the law because of inconsistencies across the jurisdictions (just a hypothetical, as I can’t recall specific laws in these areas back in ’06).
    Specific to the issue of sidewalk cycling, from Ohio Bike Federation’s Q&A when the bill passed:
    “Q:  You mentioned mandating “unsafe practices”.  Can you give an example?
    A:  Sure.  Some cities required riding on sidewalks.  These laws are no longer effective.  Sidewalk cycling is unsafe, especially at speed, because then cyclists violate the expectations of other drivers — they suddenly appear on a collision course at intersections and driveways.  Sidewalk cyclists are also a hazard to pedestrians.  Unfortunately, there are many other bad laws I could cite.  The problem is most people, including government officials, do not understand proper bicycle operation.  That leads to bad laws. ”
    Source [PDF]
    And that goes to why design is everything. A set up on Morse like you describe could work but there are many conflict points at the driveways into commercial areas.


    To everyone: If you’re not following the parallel discussion in the message board, I’ve offered to meet with anyone and ride the bike lanes on W. Broad. If you make the claim based on fear that lanes are the only way to get you riding, I’d like you to come experience what you’ll get given current precedent. PM me if interested.

  • Connect the Core Meetup #3:

      • When
        Today, Thursday, Feb 2
      • Time
        6:00pm until 7:30pm
    • Description
      Want Downtown Bike Lanes? Attend the next Connect the Core planning meetup: Thursday, February 2, 6 pm-7:30 pm at Consider Biking, 4041 North High Street, 43214, Clintonville. We’ll have pizza and veggies from zpizza.
      More Here: http://http://www.considerbiking.org/category/connect-the-core/
      • Thursday, March 15, 2012 from 6:00pm until 9:00pm
    • NEW LOCATION = Jury Room! Want Downtown Bike Lanes? Attend the next Connect the Core planning meetup: Thursday March 15, 6 pm-7:30 pm at the Jury Room. More Here: http://http://www.considerbiking.org/category/connect-the-core
  • dahopper

    Columbus is putting bike lanes on King Avenue in Grandview – any minute now! And, as a result bringing all of the intersections on King Avenue up to ADA compliance. Very exciting news! It will be a corridor for commuting to downtown and OSU from the Grandview area. Go C-bus! The City of Columbus has worked with the 5XNW Area Commission which held public planning sessions, sent out over 300 emails to local residents and business owners, mailed postcards to everyone along King Avenue, called in City planners to walk through maps as large as a white board with input from local citizens, and announced it in the Columbus Dispatch – through media contacts.

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