Columbus making strides to become bicycle and pedestrian friendly

Columbus making strides to become bicycle and pedestrian friendly

(WTVM) - No longer a "poor man's mode of transportation" is how some locals are describing a growing trend that's taking over streets around the country and right here in Columbus.

Studies show 95 percent of commuters drive cars as their main mode of transportation, especially in the South. However, for the first time in decades more people are choosing to ditch their cars. The trend is catching on across the country, working to open roadways to everyone.

"It's real exciting. It use to be the poor man's transportation but now it's becoming the cool thing to do, " said Jason McKenzie, co-owner of Ride on Bikes in Columbus.

According to census data analyzed by the Bookings Institution, people are ditching their cars and choosing to take other modes of transportation, like using a bicycle.

McKenzie says it's about time locals caught up to the biking trend taking off across the country.

"Every progressive city in the country is doing it," McKenzie adds. "It's about us all getting together and being a community together and working towards a big goal which is, being bicycle friendly and a healthier city."

Julio Portillo is on the frontline's helping to make Columbus streets, what they call, complete. Portillo is the Regional Community and Bicycle-Pedestrian planner at River Valley Regional Commission.

"Complete streets means that we strive to make streets available-- to be handicap accessible, bicyclist, pedestrians, motorist, transit, so that everybody can enjoy the streets safely," Portillo explains

You may notice additional lanes and peculiar pictures painted on the ground around Columbus. These additions are part of the "complete streets" initiative. 

Bicyclists are especially exited about the new "biker boxes." Biker boxes help make navigating city streets easier. The boxes sensor bicyclist at a stop light, much like a car is sensored, to let the light know to change. 

McKenzie says before the boxes were added, bicyclists would sit at lights for extended periods of time waiting for it to change.   

Portillo says city leaders have made great strides making Columbus roadways more accessible and the work is paying off. 

"We will be hosting the fifth annual Georgia Bike Summit," Portillo said.

Elected officials, planners, engineers, community leaders, and advocates from around the state will come together to discuss different issues and ways to make urban area roadways more open. 

The convention is open to the public. Learn more about the convention here.

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