Columbus, OH Has Big Plans for Bikes



Columbus, OH Has Big Plans for Bikes

According to a Columbus Dispatch article, the city of Columbus, OH has made a solid commitment to the future of bicycles. They plan to

add 31 miles of off-street trails and 58 miles of on-street bike lanes and routes.

Make N. High Street friendlier to bicyclists.

Build a Downtown bike station where two-wheel commuters would be able to change clothes and park their bikes.

The city has an ambitious 288 page plan on paper. They estimate that the

20-year plan has a total estimated cost of $167.6 million. About $20 million is required for the first phase, the Bicentennial Bikeway Plan, which has a target completion date of 2012.

I did some digging online, to see how the demographics of Columbus compare with those of Providence. Not surprisingly, Columbus has about four times as many people (711,470) as Providence (173,618) does. However, Providence is 2.75 times more dense (9,564/sq mile) than Columbus (3,471/sq mile). From the studies I’ve read, it’s pretty clear that cycling becomes more attractive as the density of people increases. This would indicate that Providence has the potential to be more bikeable than Columbus.

At present, I know Providence is in the early stages of a signing and striping campaign. My understanding is the striping is minimal. I haven’t a clue what it costs to put up signs, but if Providence were to invest a quarter of the money Columbus has proposed, would mean around $42 million over the next 20 years. So this begs the questions:

  1. Does Providence have a long term plan to provide funding for bicycle specific infrastructure, beyond the current signing and striping?
  2. How does the funding compare to what Columbus, OH has put on the table?

I’d welcome any comments from people in the know. If not, I’ll see if I can do some digging to turn up some numbers and long term plans.


  • Jun 3, 2008 at 3:31 am

    You are apparently unaware of the Providence Plan. There's a map and everything. Providence has been blustering about it for a decade. It only shows streets that will be designated as share use, which includes painted lanes and signage, something that could be accomplished in a week with volunteers. The only notable exceptions are the existing, short Northwest Bikeway and George Redman Linear Park. Plans to extend NWBW into Johnston are on hold indefiintely. Johnston's mayor doesn't support bicycling either.

    There is no funding. RIDOT says it will help Providence. RIDOT has suspended all road building and refocused exclusively on its bridge maintenance crisis caused by years of neglect. State is experiencing a half billion dollar deficit. All incoming federal funding within 5 years will be going to debt maintenance.

    Although I made a movie about Providence's bike culture and put it on YouTube, it was done despite the contemptable lack of civic leadership shown by chamber, city, and state when it comes to promoting cycling as a simple, healthy, pollution free transportation alternative. No, they'd rather waste $15 million on a halfmile segment of bikeway than replace a <$1 million segment of bridge between Bold Point East Providence and India Park. With that $14 million they could have built an entire bikeway connecting Blackstone Bikeway, WSBP, and EBBP at the usual rate of $900K per mile.

    You've got to ask yourself, "Why are they wasting hundreds of millions for highways in RI when a) there's a huge deficit, and b) nobody can afford pump prices anyway?" Someone ought to investigate why it costs $100 million to put 1 mile of highway next to Quonset across state owned land, which still doesn't connect with Rt 4 after 5 years. That could have been over 100 miles of official bikeways, or 200 miles of bikeway engineering. Don't bikeway engineering costs seem excessive considering railbeds used to carry trains, not bicyclists?

    Leaving with a happy thought… street sweepers are out and about!

  • Jun 3, 2008 at 9:17 am

    The main point I was trying to make by posting this article is to show that other cities are taking action on their own. I found no mention of state funding being used to support these efforts. Too often I see the city and RIDOT intertwined and I was really interested in what Providence was doing to further alternative transportation methods.

    I am aware of the Providence Bike Plan and have, frankly, been underwhelmed by it. It's a start, but I still feel like bicycles are being viewed as second class citizens; too be accommodated when it's convenient. I'd be really interested in hearing from some others who have been around the area longer than I, is there something longer term to the Providence Bicycle Plan? It seems the signing and striping of the plan could be accomplished fairly quickly, should they set their mind to doing so. Then what? Is there a longer term plan?

  • barry
    Jun 3, 2008 at 10:06 am

    Here is the little I know about this:

    Once the signing (and a little striping) and the remaining work on the northwest route (which still has $11 million left from Congressional "earmarks") is done, as far as I know the state has no sure funding for any bike project in Providence for the forseeable future. However, as part of the redesign of streets once the old I-195 bridges are removed there can be bike accomodations. The state's enhacnement program includes a "Roger Williams Park bike trail" whose funding is put off until after 2012 in the future. In "study and development" (meaning that the project is eligible for funding but no funds are available for quite a while) is a pedestrian (bike?) bridge over the Providence River on the abutments where the I-195 bridge is now, and that is it.

    Also: bike projects in the state transportation plans such as East Bay bike path bridge replacements, the northern and southern ends of the Blackstone bikeway, the East greenwicha nd Warwick bike plans are all put off to the "future" after 2012. Study and development" also has bike projects in Bristol (Poppasquash area), Charlestown, on the Pontiac branch in Cranston, Jamestown, Tiverton, and Coventry/W Warwick (spur to Hope) but there is little hope of seeing any of these with the existing funding stram for transportation. This does not even include potential projects along abandoned RR line in Smithfield, a bike path along the Seekonk River in Providence/East Providence which are nowhere in the plan.

    Please note that both RIPTA and RIDOT share a 30 cent/gallon gas tax that fudns them, whcih not only does NOT go up with rising prices (unlike a sales tax) but actually goes DOWN as people drive less. Thus they lose purchasing pwer each year. RIDOT has gotten by by borrowing from teh future with GARVEE bonds, but still faces almost half a billion in unfunded bridge repairs. RIPTA has just raised fares and we will soon see a proposal for about $7 million is service reductions due to their deficit. The politicians are afraid to adequately fund RIPTA and RIDOT and have irresponsibly undermined our transportation system. As Alan says, we also made some expensive mistakes, I would have said the worst is the almost $700 million I-195 I-Way (aka "little dig") which was about 3 times as expensive as rebuilding on the original alignment, not speak of botched design/cost overrruns etc on the Barrington bridges, Point St and more.

    I think the only way we will get our bike projects funded is to increase the funding stream for transportation. There is no magic bullet how to do this, whether gas tax increases, tolls, mileage charges with GPS, or otherwise, there will be some hard choices.

  • Jun 3, 2008 at 10:43 am

    Not too many interested in bicycling in Rhode Island have been around these issues longer than me, a lifetime resident to date. But are you interested in what's really going on? I hope you don't think you can do anything without funding, do you?

    Funding issues are entertwined, since RIDOT has already announced its fiscal suport of Providence's intiative. What most people don't understand is that federal funding of bicycling infrastructure is separate from road funding. It's up to RIDOT and the TAC to ask for it. But they don't give 100%. State's must match with 10 – 25%.

    There's a TAC meeting every month. It doesn't do much good to go, though. When I brought up these issues there, the chairperson asked, "What are we supposed to do about it?" Clueless.

    The short term plan is to throw additional money at Bike-to-Work Days and other hollow ceremonies. Rumor has it they gave the Mayor $350,000 for Providence Plan, but that's all gone. Providence "ain't no bike friendly town", but they wish you'd bike anyway despite the dangers they do nothing about. Yet bike lanes and ways are cheap compared to roads.

    So what it all boils down to is Rhode Island leaders don't think enough of bicyclists to put a few million city/state dollars into bikeways and/or bike designated accommodations on streets to draw 4 times as much federal dollars into the area. This is after Senator Reed got the feds to commit $35 million to RI long term, which is currently frozen under W's administration. W's appointee, Mary Peters, head of USDOT came right out and said recently that bicycles have no place in transportation. Thus the freeze.

    You can attend ROS, Critical Mass, club group rides to be seen and ignored. You can vote for opposition candidates in the next election. You can recall public officials who toil against your best interests (but who to replace them with?). You can organize. But you can't get Cicciline to paint stripes on Broadway, even after you've volunteered to do it yourself.

  • Jun 4, 2008 at 4:24 am

    Barry's "little" is huge compared to the average taxpayer. There's been a billion spent on local roads and not much of it benefits residents. There could only be a few reasons they keep building: a) brings in money to employ construction workers, b) setting themselves as a gateway to SE New England, c) there's lots of juice if you know how to squeeze. Commerce and politics are behind it all.

    Road use fees for heavy vehicles seems to be forgotten. Legitimate surcharges at the pump: if you ride instead of drive, you're already rewarded, but if you drive instead of ride you're not punished enough. Tolls: Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine and New Hampshire all have them. Newport bridge tolls don't even pay for its maintenance; on the other hand, RI does a "big dig" in Providence, when they could've made a highway across Aquidneck to safely connect Rt 24 to Rt 1. Instead, the island is practically unbikeable in spots with high speed traffic on secondaries, and all but one of Providences blizzard of new, costly to maintain bridges are banned to bicycles. Oh, yeah, there's been blunders galore. Why aren't heads rolling?

    In all of this, bicycling is totally ignored. Every new banned highway chops off another open road for cyclists. Latest victims are Devil's Foot and Frenchtown Roads, with poor alternatives in Post Rd and South County Trails. AMTRAK, FHWA, RIDOT, TAC, USDOT: hardly a friend to bicycling among them. Now you get why people in Austin started the Ride of Silence, San Francisco started Critical Mass, and 10% of nation's bicyclist participate in at least one such event each year.

    My offer stands: I will organize rides or sit with planners to show what's wrong with RI's roadnet to anyone who wants to do something about making it more bikeable.