FILE - Bikes Ohio

A bike rental station downtown Columbus, Ohio.

(The Center Square) – Ohio plans to focus more of its transportation tax on walking and biking, saying 10% of state households do not have access to a vehicle and $5 billion can be saved over the next two decades if biking and walking traffic slightly increased.

The Ohio Department of Transportation’s five-year plan focuses on safety, identifies public-private partnerships and identifies roles and responsibilities, according to an ODOT news release.

“Nearly one of out every 10 Ohio households does not have access to a motor vehicle, meaning active transportation options like walking and bicycling are necessary to meet basic needs,” Gov. Mike DeWine said. “When we ensure that walking and biking are safe, convenient and accessible options – everybody wins. The Walk.Bike.Ohio plan puts us on the right path to do that.”

ODOT spent $57.4 million on projects with walking and biking as the primary work in fiscal year 2020. Fiscal 2021’s expenditure comes in at $53.7 million, while fiscal 2022 is expected to be $51.6 million. The plan, which covers the next five years, is expected to show an increase in spending in fiscal year 2023 at $71 million, according to ODOT Press Secretary Matt Bruning.

The overall ODOT budget for the next two years is $6 billion.

Safety is a big key for ODOT, which reported people walking and biking made up about 14% of all traffic deaths despite making up only 2.6% of trips to work. In 2020, 164 people were killed and 469 seriously injured when traveling along or across Ohio roads on foot.

The plan took two years to develop through key meetings and public surveys and resulted in the need for improving mobility, safety and quality of life, along with investments in walking and bicycling infrastructure, maintenance, programs and policies.

“Although the publication of Walk.Bike.Ohio is a major milestone for Ohio, it is just the beginning of the work necessary to achieve our vision,” ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks said.

The plan analyzed the economic impact of walking and biking and found existing trips can save Ohioans $12.7 billion in transportation and environmental costs over 20 years. Increasing trips by 1% can add another $5 billion in savings over that time.

“The development of Walk.Bike.Ohio has helped us to establish a statewide vision for walking and biking, informed by practitioners and the public. The plan outlines what ODOT will see to advance over the next give years in order to improve walking and biking as transportation options in Ohio,” ODOT Active Transportation Manager Caitlin Harley said.

Regional Editor

An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher.