YS gets biking, walking funds
- Published: January 11, 2018
Yellow Springs was recently one of five municipalities in Ohio to be awarded funding to make the village more walker- and biker-friendly.
“I’m excited about this opportunity for Yellow Springs,” said Village Council President Brian Housh, the lead local representative on the project, in an interview this week. “Lots of municipalities and counties talk about doing projects like this, but to actually get funding for it, is awesome.”
The grant of $65,000, from the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Ohio Department of Health, will fund consultation from a leading national design group that will work with local representatives to create an Active Transportation Plan for the village.
“Part of what we all love about living in Yellow Springs is that it’s fairly walkable and bikeable,” Housh said. “Now we have a great opportunity to build on this infrastructure in Yellow Springs and improve what we have.”
No Village budget funds will be used for the project, Housh said.
The grant will fund consultation with the Toole Design Group, which, on its website at tooledesign.com, describes itself as “the nation’s leading planning, engineering and landscape design architecture firm specializing in bicycle and pedestrian transportation.” With 14 locations across the country, the firm lists as clients the cities of Seattle, Boston, Denver and Minneapolis, along with smaller communities. The firm has won a host of awards, including the “Best New Bike Lanes of 2016,” awarded for bike lanes in the Westlake neighborhood of Seattle, and the 2016 National Association of Counties award for transportation.
The grant application was written by villager Chris Bongorno, a member of the Active Transportation Committee in Yellow Springs and transportation consultant for University Circle Inc. of Cleveland.
“I’m excited to have a nationally recognized firm leading the planning effort in Yellow Springs,” Bongorno said this week. “The process will be heavy on community engagement and help us come up with new ideas to make the village an easier place to move about without a car.”
The purpose of the Active Transportation Plan is to examine “10 to 20 corridors in Yellow Springs to look at how to improve non-motorized transportation options for roads and sidewalks,” according to Housh. Likely corridors to be examined will be West South College Street, Dayton Street, Fairfield Pike and US 68, among other well-traveled roads.
“Wouldn’t it be great to feel more comfortable biking on 68, and to have more kids biking to school?” Housh asked, regarding possible targets of the ATP.
It’s also likely that the Toole group will look more closely at two or three well-used corridors, completing a conceptual plan for those areas, Bongorno said.
The value of having an Active Transportation Plan is that it provides an overall vision for ways to enhance non-motorized transportation in the village, according to Bongorno. The enhancements would include both large-scale and expensive fixes, such the creation of new sidewalks, and small-scale solutions, such as how paint can be used on roads to signal bikers and cars.
The process of creating the plan will take approximately six months, beginning this month, and will include several public meetings. It also includes the formation of a Project Advisory Committee to support the process, which will meet four to eight times over the period.
“To ensure a comprehensive and complete plan that best captures the desires and needs of all community members, this Advisory Committee needs to represent all stakeholder groups in and around Yellow Springs,” according to a press release from Village government.
Those interested in participating should contact Clerk of Village Council Judy Kintner at 767-9126, or online at email@example.com.
Stakeholder groups include schools, senior citizens, parents of children who ride to school and anyone interested in biking and walking.
“There’s room for anyone who wants to be involved,” Housh said.
One villager who plans to be involved is Barbara Mann, former transportation director for the Yellow Springs Senior Center, who has recently, since beginning to use a mobility scooter, become more aware of sidewalk problems in the village.
“We’re an aging community and it’s important that the needs of older people be paid attention to,” she said.
The purpose of the community engagement component of the plan is to do just that, according to organizers.
“We’ll be having a community conversation over a six-month period to talk about the network as a whole,” Bongorno said.
For more information about the process, contact Brian Housh at 776-9566 or firstname.lastname@example.org.