Cycling, Pedestrian Facilities Get $25M Makeover
The sound of feet plodding on a bridge; of a child riding a bicycle.
All these could become much more familiar to Columbia's downtown residents in the next 5-10 years.
The federal government awarded $25 million to Columbia through the non-motorized transportation pilot program, to create new facilities for bikers, walkers, and runners.
"We want bicycle lanes and paths and sidewalks stretching in a network like a spider web. Or we've been using the metaphor of a bicycle wheel with spokes and a rim to actually make transportation feasible, so that you can go from anywhere in the city comfortably and safely," said PedNet board member Amahia Mallea.
Mallea hopes the improvements will include pedways, which are large sidewalks separated from the road by a median.
Mallea believes construction should start with the downtown area.
"We should work on the core of the city because this is where users are right now," she said. "It's also the older infrastructure, and it is the most difficult to revamp. So we need to make sure that the core of the city, or those spokes that come into the core are taken care of."
The non-motorized transportation program is a two-way street. Mallea said both motorists and pedestrians will have to learn the rules of the road.
"We need education for drivers on how do you deal with having a lot of non-motorized transportation around you as well as how do you safely use non-motorized transportation in the city," she explained.
Other areas selected for federal non-motorized transportation grants include Sheboygan County, Wisconsin; Marin County, California; and the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.
PedNet is a coalition of individuals, businesses, and non-profit organizations who promote the rights of pedestrians and cyclists in Columbia.
Reported by: Jeremy Goldmeier, Emily Goldstein, and Mark Johnson
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