“The ultimate goal of the plan is to provide community specific guidance to improve and encourage safety for active transportation, improve safety for people who already use active transportation and to encourage more people to do so,” Walcoff said.
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The village’s allotment will be used to pay for consulting by Toole Design Group, which is tasked with formulating a plan partially aimed at identifying sidewalks in need of repair and where pathways should be developed, according to Yellow Springs Manager Patti Bates.
“The village has a large pedestrian and bicycling population, so safely sharing transportation corridors can sometimes be a challenge,” Bates said. “The village wants to ensure that future development projects consider all transportation modes … Better facilitating active transportation in the village will improve quality of life in terms of health, environmental and economic benefits.”
As the Midwest manager for the Rails to Trails Conservancy, Council Vice President Brian Housh said “active transportation is what I do.”
He said many Ohio communities are working to make walking and biking safer, and he pointed to programs in Cuyahoga County and Columbus as having well-developed “active transportation plans.”
This grant will pay for a similar plan for Yellow Springs, and it’s the first step toward getting funding to pay for actual infrastructure changes and developments.
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“The first step is the plan. The funding piece is never easy,” Housh said. “One of the main challenges in my job with Rails to Trails is figuring out more funding, and that will be the challenge for Yellow Springs as well.”
Yellow Springs sets aside about $50,000 a year to address sidewalk maintenance. Housh said prior to his time on council, council members decided the village was responsible for all sidewalk maintenance, instead of sharing the costs with homeowners who would be responsible for sidewalks contiguous to their properties.
Housh said that’s going to be an added challenge for the village, as a recent inventory of repair needs in the village are in the millions of dollars.
“The village can’t afford to maintain all the sidewalks,” he said.