ODOT Debuts 5-Year Plan For Safer Biking, Walking In Ohio
Citing a 20 percent increase in pedestrian deaths year-over-year, the Ohio Department of Transportation says it’s ready to help municipalities create safer pathways in a new, statewide, five-year plan called Walk.Bike.Ohio.
ODOT spokesman Matt Bruning said the plan has been years in the making.
“Step one of this was simply identifying what kind of infrastructure we had out there already,” Bruning said. “What's the playing field look like? And so, over the last two years, we've been doing that.”
Local lawmakers and engineers can already go to the Walk.Bike.Ohio website to request help with projects, he said.
“They can come to ODOT for some expertise,” Bruning said. “They can look at this plan to help guide where they want to make their investments and so that's the idea. We have a wide range of programs at ODOT and I think this will help certainly get some more attention to those.”
While walking and biking make up about 2.6 percent of commutes in Ohio, pedestrian and cyclists death make up 14 percent of traffic deaths, according to ODOT. From 2019 to 2020, pedestrian deaths alone increased 30 percent statewide, with incidents at intersections with unmarked crosswalks up 600 percent.
But Walk.Bike.Ohio is about more than just helping install safety measures, Bruning said Thursday.
“It could be simple technical assistance,” he said. “It could be something as easy as just helping to consult on something. It could be something where there's a financial assistance as well.”
Bruning said Ohioans’ transportation preferences are shifting, as the percentage of 16 and 17 year olds with a drivers’ license dropped to 24 percent in 2014 versus 46 percent in 1983.
“Roads and bridges are our core function, but active transportation is a growing part of that and I think that's proportionate to the number of folks who are using it,” Bruning said. “But what's disproportionate is the number of folks being injured or unfortunately killed using it and that's got to change.”