CLEVELAND — More Ohioans are walking and biking to travel, either by choice or necessity.
Recent trends in safety, health, and demographics highlight the urgent need for safer, accessible, and more convenient options for walking and biking in communities across the state.
To combat these trends and spur more strategic investment in infrastructure for pedestrians and bicyclists, the Ohio Department of Transportation is launching the first-of-its-kind Walk.Bike.Ohio.
In Ohio, people walking, and biking make up about 14% of all traffic deaths, despite making up just 2.6% of trips to work. In 2020, there were 164 people killed and 469 people seriously injured while traveling along or across Ohio’s roadways on-foot.
From 2019 to 2020 alone, pedestrian deaths increased by an astounding 30%. The most notable increases were at intersections with unmarked crosswalks, at unmarked, midblock locations and in circumstances involving speed.
The Walk.Bike.Ohio plan is about more than just safety, it introduces a framework for advancing active transportation by documenting existing conditions, identifying roles and responsibilities of various partners, and outlining critical actions for ODOT to focus on over the next five years.
The plan was developed over two years and included dozens of meetings with key stakeholders and two public surveys. Stakeholders conveyed the need for improving mobility, safety, and quality of life, and for equitable investments in walking and bicycling infrastructure, maintenance, programs, and policies.
While Ohio may boast the nation’s eighth-largest roadway network, ODOT found there is a need for improvement at the state, regional, and local level to develop bicycle and pedestrian networks, close network gaps, and address unsafe crossings and deficient or failing sidewalks.
An economic impact analysis completed as part of this effort found that existing trips by foot or bike can save Ohioans $12.7 billion in transportation and environmental costs over 20 years. If Ohio’s walking and biking rates increased by just over 1%, an additional $5 billion in cost savings is projected over the next 20 years.
In addition to economic benefits, connected active transportation networks can also play a role in improving Ohio’s ranking of 40th in the United States for overall health outcomes and 47th for health behaviors, which include obesity and physical inactivity.
Active transportation is also an opportunity to address growing mobility needs and preferences.
The hope is that this plan will be a useful tool for decision-makers at all levels of government in Ohio as they look at ways to make the state more walkable and bikeable.
Find more info on the plan here.