Senator Bond celebrates with GetAbout Columbia--Columbia arrives as a top bike/ped city in the U.S.

Senator Bond and Mayor Hindman cutting the ribbon at MKT Plaza
Senator Bond and Mayor Hindman cutting the ribbon at MKT Plaza
Columbia, Missouri, celebrated the fruition of many years' work in creating a community where people can bicycle, wheel, and walk safely, and where many more students walk to school.

Senator Kit Bond joined city officials on visit to West Boulevard Elementary School, where he walked to school with students as part of Columbia's Walking School Bus program, and then at the ribbon cutting for the first major project of the GetAbout Columbia program--the MKT plaza and a series of underpasses and trail connections that make it possible to bicycle or walk directly from downtown Columbia to the MKT Trail without any at-grade street crossings.

Representatives of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Safe Routes to School National Partnership were in attendance.

Columbia has become one of the nation's premier bicycling cities
This celebration marks an important milestone for Columbia: Recent data gathered as part of the GetAbout Columbia pilot project show that single-occupant vehicle trips to work and school have dropped by 15% in a single year.

Mayor Darwin Hindman rides his bicycle most everywhere he goesIn that same year, bicycle trips more than doubled--increasing from 3.4% to 8.7% of all work/school trips. That takes Columbia from a "better than average" bicycle city to one of the top bicycle cities in the nation. (Nationally about 0.5% of commute trips are by bicycle.)

Walking, transit, and carpooling trips are also up noticeably--more so than the national statistics in these areas.

All of this change comes with only a small portion of the GetAbout Columbia projects completed. For instance, only about 1/3 of proposed on-street bicycle routes and bicycle lanes have been installed. The MKT Plaza projects marks the first of several substantial trail and trail-connection projects planned. Some sidewalk projects have been completed but more are on the drawing board. Only one of several projects has been completed, which aim to revamp intersections to make them safer and easier for bicyclists and pedestrians to cross (several more are under construction right now).

When all GetAbout Columbia projects are completed--within the next few years--the transformation of Columbia into a bicycle and pedestrian city will be even more remarkable.

That's the transformation of an entire city, changing travel habits, reducing congestion and pollution, helping citizen develop better fitness and health--and all that for about the price of a single freeway interchange . . .

Photos from the celebration and ribbon cutting held April 17th, 2009.

Full set of photos from this event.
Slideshow of photos from this event.