COLUMBUS (WCMH) – A new plan by the Ohio Department of Transportation could save Ohioans billions of taxpayer dollars while increasing walking and biking trails in the state.
The plan, called Walk, Bike, Ohio, was developed by ODOT to not only increase biking and walking trails, but also save money in transportation costs.
According to economic studies, if Ohio’s walking and biking rates increased by just 1 percent, an additional $5 billion in cost savings is projected over the next 20 years.
However, the plan wouldn’t just save money, but also increase safety. In 2020 alone, there were 164 people killed and 469 seriously injured while traveling along or across Ohio’s roadways on foot.
The plan would not only address this but also increase health and wellness in the community.
“When you look at active transportation, it has a lot of great benefits, whether it’s economic benefits, but also health benefits,” said ODOT Press Secretary Matt Bruning. “It’s obviously going to be a lot healthier if you’re out walking and biking, so I think you’re going to see a bigger and bigger push on this not just at the state level, but hopefully also at the local level as well.”
Nearly one out of every 10 Ohio households does not have access to a motor vehicle, another issue the plan seeks to help alleviate.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said he supports the plan, as do other local officials.
“I love what ODOT is doing here,” said Chillicothe Mayor Luke Feeney. “They’re thinking beyond traditional freeway transportation, highway transportation.”
The same goes for residents like Jessica Carpenter, who said she enjoys walks with her husband and dog through Columbus.
“We come down here all the time and especially with COVID, it was one of the few things that we could do and be socially distanced,” she said. “So I would love to see Columbus do more with the trails and the biking.”