Connecting Columbia, the Columbia Association’s (CA) project to create an Active Transportation Action Agenda (ATAA), is off to a running start. In January, two kick-off open houses attracted more than 130 participants from the community. At these meetings, participants were asked to engage in various activities aimed to provide input on how and why people use the pathways, and where they saw needs for improvements or connections. Participants were asked to annotate pathway maps, complete a survey (80% said they used the pathways at least weekly) and to think “big picture,” and identify what would encourage them to use Columbia’s pathways more frequently for daily walking and/or bicycling trips. To this last question, there were lots of responses, 301 to be exact. Of these responses, 25 percent related to programmatic improvements, such as better directional signs, more connectivity to places people want to go, safer roadway crossings and better sidewalks and bikeways on roads. Improvements that encourage more people to use the pathways for daily trips – half of all trips we take are within three miles – could really improve your bank account and your pant size – two other benefits of active transportation.
The goal of Connecting Columbia is to create a more interconnected and comprehensive bicycling and walking circulation system for health, recreational and transportation purposes. The project is slated for completion in early summer 2012 when CA’s consultants, Toole Design Group, will produce a list of actionable items to improve safe pedestrian and bicycle connections throughout Columbia.
Stay connected with the Connecting Columbia project by visiting ColumbiaAssociation.org/ConnectingColumbia. And if you haven’t listened to WAMU’s recent story on the possibility of a bike share program in Columbia/Howard County, you can hear it here.