Columbia MO bike-ped pilot program in the news

The Associated Press did a story on the Columbia, Missouri, "Non-motorized Pilot Program" that was authorized in the recent federal transportation bill.

The city will received $25 million. The intention is to use this funding to "fill the gaps" in creating a complete bicycle and pedestrian friendly community. It is a pilot program that is intended to show that spending on bicycle and pedestrian projects is a cost-effective way to reduce road congestion and pollution.

Over the past 30 years many European cities have purposefully re-designed themselves to become friendlier for bicycling and walking. They have discovered that many trips--as many as 30% or 40% in many urban areas--that previously were taken by car are now done by walking or bicycling. For many trips, bicycling or walking is combined with transit.

Columbia's pilot program is intended to show that this will work in the U.S., too.

"There have been lobbying efforts on transportation bills in the past, but this time we really got our act together," [Randy Neufeld, president of America Bikes] said.

Now that the increased funding for cycling and walking programs has been approved, however, much more work remains to be done. Projects must be planned and approved, safety programs put in place and, in some cases, land must be bought where sidewalks should be built.

Representatives of the four communities in the $100 million pilot program — Columbia, Marin County, Calif., Sheboygan County, Wis., and Minneapolis, Minn. — will meet in Washington on Dec. 13-15 to figure out how to proceed.

Promoting bike paths and other projects can be a tough sell in areas where people are used to getting around in cars.

"When people made plans for roads, they mistakenly made plans for only the automobile," said Hindman. "The strategy of just building more and more lanes is proving to be counterproductive," he said.
Read more in the Springfield News-Leader.