Biking around Columbus might become safer and easier with the addition of a protected bike lane on some of the city’s roads.
The City of Columbus is getting its first protected bike lane, which is a section of the road specifically designated for bicyclists. The bike lane is part of a $6 million project that the Ohio Department of Transportation and the City of Columbus have planned. The lanes will be installed on Summit, 3rd and 4th streets after the roads are repaved this summer, said James Young, administrator in the Columbus’ Department of Infrastructure Management.
The initiative, which is scheduled to wrap up in October, is funded in part by the Ohio Department of Transportation through the Urban Paving Program, Young said. The $6 million is mostly funded by ODOT, but the City of Columbus helped contribute some money toward the plan as well, he added.
“There was also a component of ODOT safety funding that helped pay for the project,” Young said.
The bike lane initiative is a result of a lot of collaboration with Yay Bikes, a local advocacy and education group that aims to reduce bicycle crashes, according to its website.
The lanes are being strategically placed in an area that has a history of good ridership and maintains an active biking community, and many people use those streets to go to and from work and school, Young said.
“I think it’s an invitation to go out and get in the roadway as opposed to the sidewalks,” Young said. “This should provide a more comfortable space for them to commute.”
Patti Austin, an administrator in the Division of Traffic Management, said she believes that removing a car lane and some of the extra capacity on the streets will slow down traffic and make the city easier to travel by foot or on two wheels.
But replacing a lane used for cars and trucks with a lane for bicyclists might increase the time it takes to get downtown on Summit, Austin said.
“We do expect it to be safe, we expect it to be orderly, and at the speed limit, and we don’t expect any type of delays or congestion,” she said.
Adding protected bike lanes to Columbus might become an extended project, especially on streets close to Ohio State’s campus, Austin added.
“We are always working cooperatively with (OSU) on those issues,” she said. “In general, you’re going to see the number of biking accommodations around the city, including around campus, increase as time goes forward. That’s our commitment.”
OSU and Undergraduate Student Government announced in January that they are looking to bring a joint bike-sharing initiative to campus, which is set to incorporate 10 to 15 stations with 100 to 150 bicycles.
The added bike lane has already captured the attention of some OSU students.
“This project will make biking more safe for those already cycling, and will help give confidence to those who have wanted to ride their bikes but were nervous about the lack of delineated roads,” said Emily Baas, a fourth-year in microbiology and an active bicycle rider who rides in Pelotonia. “It is really a win for the city of Columbus.”