A growing number of residents are realizing the benefits of replacing car trips with using the bus, carpooling, walking or biking. These benefits include saving money, leading a healthy lifestyle and contributing to cleaner air. Similarly, the City of Columbus has also set goals to reduce the impacts of its daily operations on the environment through strategic management and use of city fleet vehicles. Below is a list of initiatives taking place to help the city and its residents find greener ways to go.
• Bike Users Map: Developed in partnership with the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, this map provides cyclists with the information they need to plan the safest route to travel to their destination. Roads are given a color coded score indicating the level of difficulty a cyclist may encounter due to typical, non-rush hour conditions.
• Central Ohio Greenways: Together with the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, Metro Parks and Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, the City of Columbus is coordinating an interconnected system of trails. Each trail is identified both on maps and on trail signage using a designated color in order to easily identify these routes as they pass through multiple jursdictions.
• Ohio to Erie Trail: Once complete this trail will connect Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland.
Creating a bicycle friendly city involves more than developing trails and bike lanes. Cyclists also need a safe, secure and convenient place to park in order to enjoy the shops, parks and other amenities Columbus offers. In order to serve this need, the city has been installing the following parking options:
• Residents can request U-shaped racks to be placed in public spaces through the city's 311 Call Center. More than 184 of these have been installed throughout the city since 2008.
• In the second half of 2011, the Department of Public Service will begin installing covered bike parking shelters and bike corrals.
• 294 parking spaces including racks, shelters and lockers will be added downtown through a project being undertaken by the Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District. This project was allocated funding from the city through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Bike Boulevard Pilot
In 2008 the City of Columbus installed a 'bike boulevard' on Milton Avenue and initiated a study of its effectiveness. The purpose of a bike boulevard is to modify a road to enhance bicycle safety using a series of signage and pavement markings. The city's bike boulevard also includes a 'bike box'. The bike box is a pavement marking located at the North Broadway intersection which allows cyclists to stop in front of waiting cars at the traffic signal to more safely navigate the intersection at North Broadway. The city was given permission from the Federal Highway Administration to experiment and study the results of this system.
Alta Bicycle Share has been selected to bring a cutting-edge bike share system to Columbus. The project will install a network of 300 bikes at 30 Downtown locations, enabling users to visit any station to borrow a bike, ride for any amount of time and return the bike at any of the 30 stations. Using a swipe card, the automated system will feature yearly memberships, single-day uses, and 3-day passes, all of which can be easily purchased at a station or online. Each time a member uses a bike, the first 30 minutes are free, followed by incremental charges each half hour thereafter.
The specialized 3-speed bikes are designed for users 18 years and older and feature adjustable seats, safety lights, fenders and a basket as well as components to prevent theft and tampering. Alta will employ a full-time team to maintain the bikes and stations and to redistribute bikes throughout the city as necessary.
Learn more by visiting the Recreation and Parks Department website.
Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)
24 Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) heavy duty vehicles will be in operation by the end of 2011. The city’s first fast-fill CNG fueling station has been constructed and is now open to the public at the Fleet Facility on Groves Road.
Riding public transit is easy, safe and convenient with The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA). Not only is riding COTA a great way to go green, but taking public transit saves you money!
COTA has many options to make riding the bus a more convenient and positive experience. Passengers have the following options available:
• Bike ‘n Bus: All COTA buses are equipped with bike racks that securely hold two bikes per rack and are available to all COTA passengers on a first-come, first-served basis.
• Park and Ride: There are 28 park and ride locations that take the hassle out of driving to work. Simply leave your car at one of the park and ride locations and let COTA do the driving.
• Express and Local lines: COTA has 29 local (plus the seasonal zoo service line) and 9 crosstown lines that serve passengers throughout central Ohio. There are 40 express lines that get passengers to and from work safe and hassle-free. COTA serves passengers seven days a week and services those with disabilities through bus lifts that accommodate wheelchairs and other mobility devices.
Division of Mobility Options
The Columbus Division of Mobility Options is committed to making Columbus' streets, complete streets. We partner with other City Departments and Divisions to fulfill Mayor Michael B. Coleman's vision to make Columbus lead the nation as a pedestrian and bike-friendly city.
In preparation for electric vehicles to become a more common sight on area roadways, the City of Columbus is developing an electric vehicle readiness plan with help from the Project Get Ready community network. The plan outlines the ideal locations for vehicle charging stations. A Department of Energy grant obtained through project partner Clean Fuels Ohio will allow the city to install two of these stations for use by the public. Additionally, the city is working to establish a partnership with American Electric Power to allow the integration of electric vehicles into the city's own fleet.
If you would like to install an electric vehicle charging station in your home, learn more about permitting and other concerns by clicking here.
There are over twenty electric vehicle charging stations open to the public throughout Columbus. To locate them, visit the U.S. Department of Energy station locator tool.
Employee Bike Amenity
The City of Columbus offers its employees free bike and helmet rental at three locations. This amenity not only benefits employee health, but also keeps the air clean. Employees use these bikes to travel to and from off-site meetings throughout the day as an alternative to using a car.
Green Fleet Action Plan
The City of Columbus has approximately 3,100 on-road and 2,800 off-road vehicles, which consumed approximately 3.6 million gallons of fuel in 2007. As part of the Get Green Columbus initiative, the city is working to reduce vehicle fuel consumption and emissions. A Green Fleet Action Plan was first developed in 2008 and has since been updated for 2011. These efforts have earned the city the title of Greenest Fleet in North America by Government Fleet Magazine.
Summary of progress:
Video overview of Columbus initiatives:
• Green Fleet Action Plan (by Clean Fuels Ohio)
• Alternative fuels (by Clean Fuels Ohio)
• Biodiesel (by Clean Fuels Ohio)
Developed by the Mayor Coleman's Green Team and the Department of Recreation and Parks, Pedal Instead is now managed by the University Area Enrichment Association. The program provides secure valet bicycle parking free at public festivals and events.
Recreation and Parks Trails
Columbus Recreation and Parks is embarking on a new, exciting and aggressive plan for the creation or future biking and walking trails in the Columbus area.
The City of Columbus is a member of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission which offers residents the following transportation services through the Ride Solutions program:
• Vanpool matching: Assistance to connect you with other people vanpool to work together using a vehicle on lease from MORPC. Riders share the costs of gasoline and parking to save you money and reduce congestion on central Ohio roadways.
• Guaranteed Ride Home: Offered to commuters using alternative modes of transportation to work (bus, bike, walk, car or vanpool), this free program provides reimbursement for cab fare home up to four times per year in the event of emergency or bad weather.