Study: More people in Columbia want to ride bikes, many worried about safety

6 months 3 weeks 3 days ago Tuesday, March 26 2019 Mar 26, 2019 Tuesday, March 26, 2019 11:00:00 AM CDT March 26, 2019 in News
By: Katerina Topalova, KOMU 8 Visiting Journalist

COLUMBIA - The city of Columbia is a great place to ride a bicycle, and it's easy to get caught up in the fun and ease of biking. A recent report from the Pedestrian and Pedaling Network showed 75 percent of people wanted to ride more often, but they were concerned about their safety.

“There can be more bike lanes and areas designated bike routes in the town for people to get around town easily. I feel like it could be an easy bike commute area. The public transportation system isn’t that great in Columbia, so really the only way to get around is driving or biking or walking,” said one cyclist named Kate.

In fact, relative to population size, the number of people killed in traffic crashes in Columbia is even higher than in New York, according to PedNet. Columbia, with more than 100,000 people, had 6.8 traffic deaths per 100,000 people in 2018. New York City, with more than 8 million people, had 3.5 deaths per 100,000 people.

Some cyclists would like to see more investment in improving bike lanes and paths, including along the MKT.

“Cleaning the tracks up a little better, making them easier and visible to see the paint, getting everything more lined up and organized,” said another cyclist, Marco.

What can be done to help Columbia become an even better place to live and bike?

“Making the roadways having more streets with bike lanes. Columbia is taking part in project of “Vision Zero” which is meant to completely reduce all traffic fatalities, cyclists [and] pedestrians, but then also motorists,” said Sarah Ashman, an employee at Walt’s Bike Shop and vice president of PedNet. “Columbia adopting that policy and that goal I think really is a huge step in a right direction”

Ashman said Columbia is moving in the right direction, but it is still behind the best in the U.S. and will take time to improve.

“Improving the design of our streets, improving intersections, all of that can go a long way keeping us safe,” Ashman said.

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