Just because gas prices have dropped doesn’t mean Ohio should build more highways. Recently, 700 Sierra Club members commented on the Ohio Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) 2014 Statewide Transit Needs Study. Now we have the opportunity to weigh in on the specific projects that ODOT will fund in 2015-2018.
We hope you can join the Sierra Club for our annual Chapter Retreat. As one of the largest and most influential environmental organizations in the state, this is the time each year where we celebrate our victories, renew our spirits, and make our plans the year ahead. All are welcome, and meals will be provided for members who register.
Transportation Committee Fights Highway Expansions, Promotes Green Transportation
October 11th, 2013
The Ohio Transportation Committee has focused its efforts at aligning group efforts to promote sensible and cents-ible alternatives to highway expansion with the national Green Transportation campaign. Our goals are to promote bike-ped development and transit and to oppose expensive highway expansion projects that devastate communities, harm human health, and endanger our natural resources. We currently have strong representation from NEO, COG, and the Miami Group, and we encourage other groups to let us know about transportation issues in their areas.
What’s at stake?
Ohio Governor John Kasich and Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jerry Wray have embarked on a policy that strongly discourages transit alternatives in favor of expanded highway networks in a state that already has one of the highest per capita rates of interstate highway. The Ohio Chapter has worked with a statewide network of transit allies to promote policies which guarantee that a portion of the state’s transportation public support environmentally sound projects from bike-ped networks to transit. We plan to redouble our efforts in the year ahead, because the new federal highway formula allows funds once reserved for green transportation to be redirected to new highway construction. Fix-it first is a much more sensible solution!
Examples of bad planning from Cleveland to Cincinnati
Despite national trends showing people moving back to the urban core and driving less, planners in Cleveland continue to promote the sorely misnamed “Opportunity Corridor” which would pave over and isolate low-income neighborhoods on the city’s East Side. Akshai Singh is leading the battle in NEO to organize community leaders, but we need more members to speak out against this expensive and polluting project. We know that asthma rates go up and life expectancy goes down in areas with high vehicular traffic.
Down in southwest Ohio, the proposed Eastern Corridor Highway remains a major threat to the Wild & Scenic Little Miami River and the health of tens of thousands of children and elderly who live in the valley or use the many parks and recreational facilities there. Despite strong and consistent opposition from the Village of Mariemont, the Village of Newtown, and Cincinnati’s Madisonville Community Council, ODOT continues to push forward with a billion-dollar boondoggle. What’s even more appalling is the huge waste of tax dollars to hire a major marketing firm to promote the highway, even a new YouTube video which purports to show the highway is the only way to reduce traffic congestion. ODOT planners just admitted this week, the computer model used to predict traffic patterns doesn’t even use traffic data! Our own analysis of actual ODOT traffic data in the area as well as an independent study confirmed the national trends that people are driving less, and traffic has declined in the area consistently over the last several years.
CoGo bike share spinning through Columbus
But we have to end on an optimistic note, and for that we take you to Central Ohio and the CoGo bike share project. In just one month, 10,000 people have traveled 26,700 miles using the 30 different CoGo locations. Columbus ‘CoGo’ bike share was rolled out through downtown Columbus in July. Featuring 30 automated rental (and portable) kiosks each contain approximately ten bicycles, 300 in total. This was made possible by the City of Columbus Recreation and Parks Department contracting with Alta Planning + Design, based in Portland, on a five-year partnership for an initial $2.5 million city investment. The purpose is to promote the use of bicycles for short trips rather than cars. Annual members – $75 per year – receive the first 30 minutes of each bike ride free. Although these bicycles can be rented for one or three days by any adult with a credit card, the concept is to encourage short trips and turnover from station to station. Columbus is first in Ohio and beat out San Francisco’s recent bike share implementation! We hope other Ohio cities will follow Columbus’ lead. For more info: www.cogobikeshare.com firstname.lastname@example.org http://parks.columbus.gov/ColumbusBikeShareProgram.aspx http://www.altabicycleshare.com/