Demand is growing for a transportation system with more choices of modes and fuels. Local governments can do a lot to promote a transition that improves health, quality of life, and the environment.
Between the 1980 and 2010 Census counts the combined population of Darke, Greene, Miami, Montgomery, and Preble counties increased by 0.03 percent. At the same time the Dayton urbanized area grew by over 39 percent. A larger urbanized area means more roads, more utility infrastructure, more storm water infrastructure and the associated costs borne by communities to maintain them. There is an emerging realization that a sprawling transportation system creates mobility for some and limits mobility for others.
Between the 1980 and 2010 Census counts the combined population of Darke, Greene, Miami, Montgomery, and Preble counties increased by 0.03 percent. At the same time the Dayton urbanized area has grown by over 39 percent. A larger urbanized area means more roads, more utility infrastructure, more storm water infrastructure and the associated costs borne by communities to maintain them.
There is an emerging realization that this sprawling transportation system creates mobility for some and limits mobility for others. According to the 2006-2010 American Community Survey (ACS) 84 percent of the region’s residents drive their automobile alone to work. At the same time, in our region 6 percent of households have no access to a private automobile. The system is increasingly costly for the public sector to maintain. And at 75 cents per mile of driving according to AAA in 2018, it’s costly for people to use. ACS data from 2011-2015 indicates that Miami Valley residents spent an average of 26 percent of household income on personal transportation, which is above the national average.
Also, an auto-centric transportation system does not meet the mobility needs of large numbers of people — young, elderly, disabled, poor — who cannot drive. And it contributes to health problems by depriving people of opportunities to get exercise as part of their daily routines.
Increasingly, local governments are being pressured to provide better transportation options for their residents. People want more transit access and safe, connected bike facilities. Residents without use of a private car need transportation to life-essential services such as medical and grocery trips. Coordination among public, non-profit, and private providers of human service transportation providers is increasingly important. Wonderful, walkable places – either historic downtowns or newly built “town centers” – are experiencing increased foot traffic and business. The market is responding with entirely new modes of transportation, such as ride hailing, bike and car sharing, and even scooters. Developers are designing mixed use spaces, and bringing housing back to the central parts of cities. Clearly, land use decisions by communities have a tremendous influence on the transportation choices of the people that live and/or work there. Please see the Land Use and Development chapter for avenues to develop in ways that encourage reduced dependence on automobiles.
A parallel issue is the growing transition to electric transportation. Electric vehicles (EV) are a small but rapidly growing segment of the automobile market. The number of plug-in vehicle models available in the U.S. quadrupled between 2012 and 2019. The legacy U.S. automakers (Fiat-Chrysler, Ford, GM) have committed to offer over 90 plug-in models by 2023. EV do not solve any of the problems discussed above with car-centric development, but they do promise cleaner, quieter, less expensive transportation for the future.
Communities looking to stay apace with this transition are requiring parking areas to be EV ready, including EV in their public fleets, and providing public charging at public buildings and activity centers. Regionally, MVRPC led a successful effort with Metropolitan Planning Organizations in Cincinnati and Columbus in 2017 to designate Interstates 70, 75, and 675 as Alternative Fuel Corridors. This designation for DC Fast Charging, Compressed Natural Gas, and Liquefied Natural Gas serves to raise public awareness of alternative fuels, and has already resulted in a new DC Fast Charging location along I-70 in Huber Heights.
What Communities can do
There are real opportunities for local governments to revitalize their community and improve quality of life by choosing a different transportation and land use path. The lists below offer a wide range of practical approaches to consider.
Community Education & Outreach
Raising awareness about alternative modes of transportation is a valuable service local governments can do for their residents, and the whole Region.
- Bike mode share (setting a goal to increase biking) — Start with a baseline assessment, with data available from the American Community Survey Biking and Walking to Work report and from the MVRPC Transportation Data Commons. For local bike/pedestrian counts look at MVRPC’s Bicycle Counting Program information. Then conduct your own bike counts; MVRPC loans bicycle counters to member jurisdictions for local short-duration counts. After bike lanes are installed, conduct follow-up counts to measure impact.
- Pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities/traffic fatalities — Download Ohio crash data by year. Encourage Police and Planning departments to put crash data on a map and to discuss local interventions.
- Organize a walking “audit” of your city to draw attention to gaps in the pedestrian infrastructure and raise awareness of the health, environmental and social benefits of walking.
- Bicycle Friendly Community — The application process is free and includes a plan to make bicycling safe, comfortable, and convenient for people of all ages and abilities. Current award winners in the Miami Valley are Dayton, Piqua, Springboro, Troy, and Yellow Springs.
- Host a Bike to Work Day event in May (National Bike Month) in an employment center of your community.
- Walk Friendly Community — This program recognizes communities supporting walking environments that are safer, more accessible, and more comfortable. Dayton received an Honorable Mention for their recent application to this program.
- Safe Routes to School — Work with your school district to develop a Safe Routes program to facilitate active transportation for students and the community in general. A school or district travel plan communicates the community's intentions around making active transportation safe and accessible, and it provides a blueprint and funding opportunities for implementation. If your school district already has a Travel Plan, work to implement its recommendations. An Active Transportation Plan can serve the same purpose for a community.
- Install publicly-accessible EV charging at public facilities in the community, such as government offices, libraries, and community centers. Work with downtown businesses to add EV charging in your business district. BYG
- Recognize employees who participate in active living programs, such as walking a certain number of steps per day or entering national challenges like Bike to Work Day or Bike Month.
- Encourage employees to purchase transit passes with pre-tax dollars through WageWorks.
- Install bike racks, changing areas, and showers in government buildings for use by bike commuters.
- Install preferential parking spots in city lots for carpools and electrified vehicles. Make provisions for public employees to charge EV at the workplace.
- Transition the city vehicle fleet to more fuel-efficient vehicles, alternative fuel vehicles and EV. Clean Fuels Ohio can provide technical assistance and information about federal funding opportunities. BYG
- Train police about the proper enforcement of bicycle laws.
- Update your community’s ADA Transition Plan to learn what areas in your community are in need of extra attention.
- Train service department and engineering staff on best practices for designing and installing bike and transit facilities.
- Develop a local bike infrastructure plan for bikeways to connect community facilities, amenities and the regional bikeways system.
- Miles of bike lanes/trails — Set a goal to paint a certain number of bike lanes per year. Classify them by type (protected bike lane; bike lane; sharrows). Bike Miami Valley and/or MVRPC can advise on the best practices for installing bike facilities.
- To stretch infrastructure dollars, align bikeway planning with capital improvement plans so bike facilities are installed when streets are fixed.
- Include funds in the capital budget for bike facilities.
- Adopt an infrastructure planning process that considers the long-term sustainability and life-cycle costs of roads and other infrastructure
Ordinances and policies
- Adopt a Local Complete Streets Policy — Over 1,490 jurisdictions nationally, including Dayton, Piqua, Riverside, Troy, and Yellow Springs, have adopted complete streets. The National Complete Streets Coalition reports that 52% of complete streets policies are in small cities with populations under 30,000. To facilitate the adoption of local complete streets policies, MVRPC can conduct walking audits, facilitate complete streets policy development workshops, and provide GIS data.
- Alternative performance measures to Level of Service (LOS) — Communities are considering the street experience for other users, like pedestrians or bicyclists, in addition to motorists. A bicycle level of traffic stress (LTS) analysis assesses bicycling in your city from the bicyclists’ point of view. Ohio State University recently completed a study on conducting LTS analysis with existing data sets. MVRPC can assist communities looking to study their roadways through this lens. (If still using LOS for cars, explore the possibility of calculating peak flows based on four-hour averages rather than peak hours. This helps design roads for typical needs rather than for maximum congestion.)
- Encourage transit agencies to bring new routes or enhance current routes to your community. Enhance transit stop locations with bus turn outs, shade trees, shelter structures, benches and trash receptacles. Make sure bus stop locations are well served by well-maintained, ADA compliant sidewalks. Incentivize private developers to welcome transit service and provide good facilities for transit stops.
- Parking reform — Communities in Ohio, such as Euclid, are granting more flexibility in meeting parking requirements, including credits for shared parking, off-site parking, and credits for transit and bike access. Cleveland Heights has a policy for parking maximums (rather than the usual minimum number of spaces) and an innovative land-banked parking ordinance. Shaker Heights’ Commercial Mixed Use District zoning (see Chapt. 1234) has parking maximum provisions. And the Chagrin River Watershed Partners have a model parking code for reducing pavement and protecting water quality.
- Require new parking development to have a minimum number of spaces that are EV-ready, including pre-installed conduit and pads for EV charging equipment.
- Transportation Coordination Planning – work with your county mobility manager to explore ways to support the local transportation coordination plan for the enhancement of transportation options (reimbursement policies).
- Identify locations in your community to site alternative fuels stations, particularly for compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, and DC Fast Charging for electric vehicles along the designated Alternative Fuels Corridors.
- Transit-oriented development — See Land Use & Development chapter.
- Vision Zero — Adopt a goal to reduce the loss of life from road collisions to zero.
- Anti-idling ordinance — See Air Quality chapter.
- Health impact assessments — Consider the health impacts of development and infrastructure projects. An example is the assessment completed for the East Side Greenway.
- Zoning for mixed-use and transit-oriented districts — See Land Use & Development chapter.
No community in the Miami Valley is a transportation island. Regional collaboration and planning are needed to develop a seamless transportation system that will strengthen all communities and will be sustainable in the future. So all communities should be engaged in regional initiatives, such as:
- MVRPC’s long range regional transportation planning process and human services transportation coordination planning process.
- The Greater Region Mobility Initiative seeking to expand human services transportation coordination across nine counties in west-central Ohio.
- Participate in the Greater Regional Mobility Initiative Council or the Human Services Transportation Coordination Council.
- GDRTA and other transit agencies’ efforts to increase state funding for transit improvements.
- Drive Ohio, Ohio DOT’s program to advance research on emerging transportation technologies.
- Efforts related to the Miami Valley Trails, such as ongoing work to fill critical trail gaps, planning for east-west laterals such as the Great-Little Trail, and local planning to connect neighborhoods and downtowns to the trails. Participate in the MVRPC Regional Bikeways Committee to keep up on all these initiatives.
- The new Institute for Livable and Equitable Communities at MVRPC.
- Active transportation, Complete Streets — Matt Lindsay, 937.531.6548, email@example.com
- Bike facility design — Laura Estandia, Bike Miami Valley, 937.496.3825, firstname.lastname@example.org
- City bike planning, Protected bike lanes -
Brian Forschner, City of Xenia, 937.376.7285 email@example.com;
- Health benefits of active transportation — Robert Harrison, CHC Coordinator, Public Health Dayton-Montgomery County, 937.224.3806, RHarrison@phdmc.org
- Safe Routes to School, Safe Kids Coalition – Abbey Pettiford, 937.641.5853, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Public Transit – Brandon Policicchio, Greater Dayton RTA, 937.425.8330, email@example.com
- Trails and greenway planning — Matt Lindsay, MVRPC, 937.531.6548, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Miami Valley Rideshare – Laura Henry, 937.531.6542, email@example.com
- Greene, Miami, Montgomery Counties - Shannon Webster, GreeneCATS Public Transit, 937.708.8316, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Darke County – Michelle Caserta-Bixler, Catholic Social Services RideLink, 833.289.0227, email@example.com
- Preble County – Tim Miller, Preble County Transit, 937.456.4947, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ohio DOT Contacts
- District 7 – Bike & Pedestrian Coordinator, Safe Routes to School, Safety Coordinator – Mary Hoy, 937.497.6838, email@example.com
- District 8 – Bike & Pedestrian Coordinator, Safety Coordinator – Brianne Hetzel, 513.933.6624, firstname.lastname@example.org
Safe Routes to School – Tom Arnold, 513.933.6588, email@example.com
- Central Office – Safe Routes to School - Cait Harley, 614.466.3049; Safety – Jordan Whisler, 614.644.8181; Bike Routes – Caraline Griffith, 614.644.8336
- Human Services Transportation Coordination Plan
- Greater Regional Mobility Initiative – a nine-county human services transportation coordination plan
- MVRPC Accessibility of Basic Services Analysis
- Miami Valley Data Commons
- Center for Neighborhood Technology resources for transit-oriented development
- Federal Highway Administration guidance for street design flexibility for bikes and pedestrians
- Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure project assessment tools
- National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) Urban Bikeway Design Guide
- National Complete Streets Coalition
- Transportation for America
- Ohio DOT TIMS data resource
- Ohio DOT non-motorized Database System
- State and US Bicycle Route System
- Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission