COLUMBIA — GetAbout Columbia, as well as the other three pilot programs across the United States, showed overall increases of biking and walking after the federal government funded the program that promotes nonmotorized transportation.
Columbia's increase in walking and bicycling placed third in relation to the other communities — Sheboygan County, Wis., Minneapolis and Marin County, Calif. — that were each given $21.5 milllion over the course of four years to reduce vehicle use.
This report was presented to Congress outlining the progress of the Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Programs. Columbia was one of four local governments to receive federal grants through this program.
The numbers compare counts of bicyclists and pedestrians taken on the same day in all four communities in 2007 and 2010.
Jill Stedem, spokeswoman for Public Works, said it was raining in Columbia on the 2010 collection day, which skewed the 2010 count.
In Columbia, a 14 percent increase in walking and a 26 percent increase in bicycling was reported from 2007 to 2010. That compared to a 24 percent increase in walking and a 68 percent increase in bicycling in Marin County, a 17 percent increase in walking and a 33 percent increase in bicycling in Minneapolis and a 12 percent increase in walking and a 23 percent increase in bicycling in Sheboygan County.
A follow-up to the Congressional report published by the city of Columbia, said that the annual survey in 2011 found a 74 percent increase in walking and 147 percent increase in bicycling from 2007 to 2011. These numbers were not available at the time the Congressional report was compiled, according to the follow-up report.
There will be another report presented to Congress in 2013 that will reflect the 2007 to 2011 cycling and pedestrian increases, according to the GetAbout report.
The $28,000 Windsor/Ash bicycle boulevard was cited as a successful experimental design. A 124 percent increase in bicycle traffic was recorded on the bicycle boulevard from 2007-2010, and additional bicycle boulevards are in the planning stages.
An additional $5.9 million was granted to each pilot community last year to finish projects not covered by the original grant. The City Council gave approval to the first three projects. The remaining projects will be reviewed by citizens, Stedem said.
Within the next month, a meeting will be held in Columbia to gather feedback from the public on the remaining projects, Stedem said. Citizen review will help decide which project should be done first, she said.
A bicycle lane on Stadium Boulevard and upgrades to the underpass of MKT Nature and Fitness Trail at Stadium Boulevard are the most recent GetAbout projects nearing completion.
Cyclists can access the MKT from a ramp off Stadium Boulevard. Improvements have been made to the underpass to keep water off the path. The project will be finished after lights are installed in the tunnel, which will be in about a month, Stedem said.
Mayor Bob McDavid, in a Public Works Department news release, said that all future roadway improvements will include pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. Stedem cited an ongoing expansion of Clark Lane, which runs in front of The Links apartment complex and will include sidewalks and a bike lane.