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Next summer, Columbus will see the launch of its first bike share network with over 300 bikes parked at 30 locations in Downtown and nearby neighborhoods. Users of the system will be able to visit any of the stations, borrow a bike to ride and return it to any of the stations.

“BikeShare is a low-cost, 24-hour transit system,” said Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman. “We’ve taken big steps toward making Columbus one of the best biking cities in the nation, and I’m excited to add bike sharing to the mix.”

Portland-based Alta Bicycle Share has been selected to bring the system to Columbus in June 2013. The system will utilize an automated swipe card system that will feature single-day uses, three-day passes and yearly memberships. The cards can be purchased at stations or online.

“This program is a fabulous addition for Downtown, and I have no doubt we will see a significant increase in bicycle traffic,” said Cleve Ricksecker, executive director of the Capital Crossroads and the Discovery Special Improvement Districts. “Columbus BikeShare will be a big amenity not only for visitors to Columbus, but for Downtown employees and residents. “

The 300 bikes that will be a part of the system are three-speed models designed for users over the age of 18. Bikes feature safety lights, a basket for hauling goods, and components to prevent theft. A maintenance team will repair broken bikes and redistribute them to stations throughout the city.

Alta Bicycle Share operates similar systems in Boston, Washington DC and Melbourne, with new systems also rolling out this coming spring in New York City and Portland.

Pricing structures have not yet been announced in Columbus, but the existing systems in Boston and DC charge $5-$7 per day, $12-$15 for a three-day pass, or $75-$85 for annual memberships. Once a pass has been purchased, the costs are then broken down based on time ridden. Any trip under 30 minutes from station to station is free, followed by charges broken down by half-hourly increments.

Columbus City Council is expected to approve legislation on Monday authorizing a one time expenditure of $2.2 million to purchase the bikes, stations and other equipment that will be operated by Alta.

Station locations will be decided this fall through resident and business input, while initial station locations will be centered near Downtown area attractions and employment centers. A map of proposed approximate locations can be found below.

To read more about the concept of bike share systems, click here: Big Ideas: Trending Cycles.

The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) continues to add new service late into the weekend hours with the introduction of a new late night route on West Broad Street. Route number #222 is a new bus line launching tonight that connects Downtown Columbus with the Columbus Hollywood Casino from 7pm to 3am on Friday and Saturday nights. (CLICK HERE to view a PDF of the #222 Bus Schedule).

Leadership at COTA worked with officials at the Hollywood Casino to identify transit service that would benefit employees at the casino and also provide enhanced services for casino visitors. During the daytime, COTA operates four lines that service the west side area near the casino — routes #3, #6, #10 and #53.

“Customers routinely request more late night COTA service and we saw the employment opportunities coupled with the entertainment aspect as a way to replicate our Night Owl service in another part of the community,” said Marty Stutz, Vice President of Communications, Marketing and Customer Service at COTA. “From a planning perspective, the casino location serves as a good anchor for the end of a bus line, and West Broad Street is a busy transit corridor.”

COTA launched the #21 Night Owl route in 2009 servicing North High Street from Clintonville to Downtown Columbus during similar late night weekend timeframes. The service was originally targeted at Ohio State University students, but it proved popular enough to warrant expansion in 2010 and now continues on South High Street to German Village and the Brewery District.

“Increasingly we’re seeing more non-students riding including people who live along the High Street corridor getting to and from jobs or using it for recreation,” said Stutz. “For instance, Downtown or Victorian Village residents may take the Night Owl to events at the Wexner Center, and Clintonville residents may ride to movies at the South Campus Gateway.”

Similarly, while the new #222 service is being launched with casino visitors and employees in mind, Stutz expects to see a combination of vistors staying at Downtown hotels riding to the casino as well as other west side residents using it to travel to other destinations. Routes #21 and #222 have a transfer connection point at the Nationwide and High bus stops.

Beyond the #222, additional late night service could be launched if public demand warrants it. COTA is hosting the first of three Short-Range Transit Plan Update (SRTP) meetings where they will engage the public on the future needs of the community.

“It’s really a decision that will be made after we have a greater understanding of our customers’ needs balanced with the financial resources needed to add late night service,” says Stutz.

If you’re unable to attend the meetings, you can still provide feedback through an online form on COTA’s website.

More information can be found online at www.cota.com.

Downtown is gaining approximately 325 new bike parking spaces Downtown as the installation of six bike shelters, bike lockers, indoor bike parking rooms and 70 bike racks is completed. The project was made possible through a federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant awarded to the city of Columbus through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The project is being executed through a partnership between the City of Columbus and Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District.

“Federal recovery funding has helped our city emerge from the recession and is now assisting our efforts to become one of the best bike cities in the nation,” said Mayor Michael B. Coleman. “These bike shelters and other bike parking encourage more people to ride bikes and make us a greener and healthier city.”

The six new bike shelters are located on the sidewalks near the following intersections:

  • East Long Street and North Front Street
  • North High Street and Hickory Street
  • East Broad Street and North 3rd Street
  • East Broad Street and 4th Street
  • South High Street and East State Street
  • West Mound Street and South Front Street

Each shelter can park 18 bikes covered by a “green roof” topped with drought-tolerant plants that absorb rainwater. The indoor bike rooms are located at the City of Columbus and Franklin County offices. Additional bike racks have been placed strategically throughout all of Downtown. The city of Columbus provided Capital Crossroads with $490,000 to manage the installation of the entire project.

“The bicycle facilities give downtown employees another amenity. We anticipate a large increase in bicycle commuting over the next several years,” said Cleve Ricksecker, Executive Director of Capital Crossroads. “Downtown’s central location and street grid allow it accommodate employers who want to give their employees travel options.”

More information about the Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District can be found online at DowntownColumbus.com.

Every year, global commercial real estate organization Colliers International produces an annual survey on parking garage rates across the United States and Canada which they compile into a public report. Columbus was noteworthy in that there was zero change between 2011 and 2012’s pricing, while the national average rate of increase was 1.6 percent.

“This year’s report shows that Columbus’s parking rates have held strong and are now listed as below the national average for monthly parking rates,” said  Leslie Hobbs, Director of Marketing at Colliers International for the Greater Columbus Region.

The average cost of parking in a covered or underground parking garage in Columbus is $95 per month, while the national average is $164.80 per month. The city at the top of the list is New York City, where in Midtown Manhattan the average cost is $562 per month.

To read the full report, visit www.collierscanada.com.

New Fare Systems

In November 2011, Cincinnati’s transit system, SORTA, began installing new fareboxes to replace their aging fareboxes. One of the larger criticisms this blog has of the new proposed Cleveland Avenue BRT project is the lack of a pre-payment option which would get people onto the bus quicker.

Graph showing how to use the farebox.

According to a press release, the new SORTA farebox can accept:

  • Cash ($1, $2, $5, $0.01, $0.05, $0.10, $0.25)
  • Metro Tokens (Silver = $1.75, Bronze = $1.50)
  • Smart cards which can tap and go.
  • 30-day passes
  • Pre-paid $10, $20, and $50 swipe cards.

With the exception of the redundant Metro Tokens, the farebox would be a major step up for COTA. The most interesting option, the smart cards with tap and go technology, do not appear to be operational yet and it will be interesting to see how widespread its use is once operational.

The project replaced the 17-year old fareboxes in 342 buses for a total of $4.5 million with 80% ($3.6 million) being paid by the Federal Transit Administration and the remaining 20% ($0.9 million) being paid by SORTA. In comparison, COTA has 306 active buses which would cost $4 million assuming prices were similar to SORTA’s project.

For the year ending March 2012, COTA has operated $1.8 million under budget. The “Smart Card” fare system referred to within the 2011-2015 Short-Range Transit Plan is likely to be discussed in the October public meetings concerning the plan. Assuming that COTA can get a similar federal match that SORTA did, I think I have a bridge farebox to sell them.

Sidewalks through Parking Lots

I was out getting some donuts on Sunday morning and saw this sidewalk connection from the shared use path on the west side of Sawmill Road to the front door of Tim Hortons.  It’s so rare that big box auto-oriented retail is well connected to the sidewalk, that I thought it merited a post.

The rare and elusive sidewalk

It even includes a stamped crosswalk. Fancy.

Looking at the aerial, you can see that the sidewalk connection I photographed isn’t the only one.  There are several that I’ve highlighted in red below.

Still sprawl, but with sidewalks

The land use still isn’t pedestrian friendly, and I’d rather see buildings constructed at the right-of-way, but at least the sidewalk connections keep it from being hostile to pedestrians.  Where buildings are set back from the right-of-way behind a parking lot, this is something basic that can be done to at least acknowledge that some people might want to get there without a car.  I’d like to see these kinds of sidewalk connections retrofitted into old developments and required by zoning codes for new developments.  Kudos to Dublin for doing this.

Sullivant Avenue Road Diet

The City is proposing to reduce the number of lanes on Sullivant Avenue from four to three. This would also remove parking on one side of the street. Sharrows would be installed as a marginal bicycle improvement. There’s a public meeting tonight at 6:30 PM the library on Hague to discuss the proposal.

Sullivant Ave. plan ill-timed, some say
By Mark Ferenchik
The Columbus Dispatch Saturday September 22, 2012 6:18 AM

The timing of a proposal to reduce the number of lanes on Sullivant Avenue has perplexed some Hilltop neighborhood leaders.

Traffic in each direction would be reduced from two lanes to one on Sullivant between Hague Avenue on the Hilltop and Yale Avenue in Franklinton. The 2.3-mile section would also get a new center turn lane and “sharrows,” symbols that tell drivers that bicycle riders are encouraged to use the same lane.

“Why are we doing this now, before we see the impact of the casino?” said Chuck Patterson, who leads the Greater Hilltop Area Commission. “I do think it would be wise to wait and see.”The Hollywood Casino Columbus is to open Oct. 8 on W. Broad Street about 2.5 miles from the intersection of Sullivant and Hague avenues. Columbus wants to start the Sullivant work next spring or summer.

City officials have presented the draft plan to the Greater Hilltop and Franklinton area commissions. They’ll be discussing it at a 6:30 p.m. meeting Tuesday at the Columbus Metropolitan Library branch at 511 S. Hague Ave. as part of an open house on making Sullivant more attractive and pedestrian-friendly.

The city wants to increase safety along Sullivant by slowing traffic, said Rick Tilton, spokesman for the public service department.

The intersection of Sullivant and Wayne avenues had the fourth-worst rate of crashes between cars and bicyclists and pedestrians in Columbus from 2006 through 2010, with 20 crashes, according to the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission.

READ MORE

I have several comments on this:

  •  A road diet is a great idea on this stretch of Sullivant.  Center left turn lanes would improve safety considerably on the road.
  • A streetscape project is a great idea on this stretch of Sullivant.  My previous analysis showed that based on demographics in the Hilltop, this area has the potential to be a great walkable mixed-use corridor.
  • There is some recent evidence that sharrows may actually make a roadway less safe for cyclists.  This probably merits a separate post, and I think this issue needs some more research.  For now I’ll just say it would be nice if they could install bike lanes out there as was proposed in the Bicentennial Bikeways plan.  However, Sullivant appears to be about 40 feet wide, so the center turn lane would have to go to make room for bike lanes.  This is a tough trade-off to make.  The street cross-section widths with bike lanes might look like this: 5-11-11-5-8, where the travel lanes are 11 feet, the bike lanes are 5 feet, and the parking lane is 8 feet.  The three-lane cross section without bike lanes will probably look something like this: 11-10-11-8.
  • I’m not really concerned about the casino traffic.  I expect that casinos generate most traffic at night and on weekends, which wouldn’t conflict with normal rush hour traffic.
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