Columbia Association’s Board of Directors approved the Active Transportation Action Agenda on October 11, 2012. The Action Agenda has pilot projects and recommendations that will create a more interconnected, comprehensive and safe bicycling and walking circulation system for health, recreational and transportation purposes. The emphasis of the Action Agenda is on CA’s pathways. This project is currently being coordinated with Howard County’s Bicycle Master Plan initiative, which focuses more on the county’s roadways.
Goal: To create a more interconnected bicycling and walking circulation system in Columbia for health, recreational, and transportation purposes
- Increase the amount of bicycling and walking throughout Columbia among people of all ages and abilities
- Improve the safety of the pathway system
- Increase connectivity to key destinations
- Make Columbia’s pathway network easy to navigate
- Coordinate this project with the County’s Bicycle Master Plan.
Desired outcomes for this project include an implementable action agenda that establishes priorities for Columbia bicycling and pedestrian network improvements; identifies implementation projects, including a pathway signage/wayfinding pilot project; creates a series of route maps; recommends partnerships; and identifies responsible parties for the implementation projects.
November 2011 to July 2012.
The CA Board of Directors will be discussing the Action Agenda at its regularly scheduled board meeting on September 27.
CA and consultants Toole Design Group prepared a revised version of the Action Agenda that addressed more than 100 written comments and suggestions from the volunteer task force members. These helpful comments are an example of how engaged this volunteer group is with this project. In addition, CA and consultants revised the maps to include a new color scheme, making them easier to read and added an implementation matrix so progress can be tracked as recommendations are implemented.
In early July, CA and Toole Design Group sent a draft Active Transportation Action Agenda to the task force and asked each task force member to review and provide written comments and suggestions. Staff then reviewed each comment and prepared a response in a comment and response document and also used the comments and suggestions to begin updating the Action Agenda.
Consultant Toole Design Group continued drafting the Active Transportation Action Agenda – the report that will document the recommendations of the Connecting Columbia project. As part of this process, Toole developed a list of potential pilot and priority projects and discussed them with the task force at the June meeting. Based on the task force discussion, Toole will be refining these items as they develop the draft Action Agenda. The task force will be reviewing a draft of the action agenda in July and a finalized version is anticipated in August.
CA Staff and consultants continued to develop the preliminary recommendations for Columbia’s pathway network, which were presented to the public on May 23. Over 90 people attended this meeting at The Other Barn and feedback received through a written questionnaire indicates that participants overwhelming feel that the project is headed in the right direction. Next steps will be to draft the Active Transportation Action Agenda with specific recommendations, priorities, estimated costs, and potential funding sources. A draft Action Agenda is anticipated in late June and a final by late July or early August.
At the April meeting of the Active Transportation Action Agenda task force, the Toole Design Group presented an overview of the preliminary recommendations for the action agenda, including an initial hierarchy of pathways and on-road bicycle/pedestrian connections, intersection improvements/considerations, as well as example local neighborhood connections. The meeting concluded with a discussion of the initial findings, and anticipated recommendations to be reviewed prior to the May Task Force meeting. Later in the month, staff and task force members also participated in a walking and biking tours led by Toole Design to highlight pathway conditions, challenges to connectivity, suggested improvements and potential locations for wayfinding signage.
Existing Conditions Analysis and County Coordination
Toole Design Group completed initial pathway field work and gave a presentation of their analysis and findings to the task force on March 15. John Byrd, Director of Howard County’s Department of Recreation and Parks also met with the task force to provide an overview of what pathway improvements the county is planning to make in the short and long-term. David Cookson from the county’s Department of Planning and Zoning also addressed the task force and provided information on Maryland Department of Transportation bikeway grants Howard County was recently awarded that will improve connectivity within and around Columbia, as well as another grant that is to fund a signed bike route between Columbia to Fort Meade.
Existing Conditions Analysis
Consultants Toole Design Group, with assistance from CA Staff, have begun field work and analysis to assess existing walking and bicycling conditions of Columbia’s pathway system and the associated roads and sidewalks that connect to the system and adjacent destinations. This will continue through mid-March. During the January civic engagement process, some stakeholders articulated a desire to have the pathways assessed for their possible use for certain types of motorized vehicles. Based on this request, CA amended the consultant scope to include an assessment of the pathways for possible use by certain types of motorized travel within the pathway system, including golf carts, Segways, and electric-assist bicycles. Please note that electric wheelchairs were already part of the original scope of work.
Kick-off Workshops January 2012
CA hosted two open houses on January 11 and 12. Participants reviewed maps, took a survey and made suggestions on how to improve walking and biking in Columbia with a focus on CA’s pathways. CA and consultants Toole Design Group also gave a brief presentation, which was followed by a Q&A session. More than 120 people attended these meetings. Preliminary results summarizing what we heard from meeting participants, and those who used the online mapping or survey tools are now available
We want the community’s help identify needs, potential solutions, and area of concern. Public workshops, meetings, walk and biking tours, and an on-line commenting tool will all provide ways to be involved.
CA hosts public meetings to gather ideas from the community, and to keep the community informed of the projects progress.
- May 23 Preliminary Recommendations Public Meeting:
On May 23, CA and consultants presented preliminary recommendations for Connecting Columbia – CA’s Active Transportation Action Agenda – at The Other Barn in Oakland Mills. Over 90 people attended and provided their thoughts on the preliminary recommendations. They also shared their hopes for the future improvement of CA pathways and ideas for county roadways.
- January Kick-off Workshops:
More than 120 people participated in two evening workshops on January 11, 12.
- April 25 Event – The Path Forward: Cycling Innovations Across the US
Jennifer Toole – a nationally-recognized expert in bicycle and pedestrian planning and design presented on April 25, 7:30pm, at Slayton House as part of Columbia’s Community Building Speakers’ Series. Toole discussed selected US communities and their successes creating greenways, safe bike lanes, and other changes that make these communities more livable, enjoyable, and more economically competitive. Jennifer Toole is the lead consultant for the Connecting Columbia project and founder of Toole Design Group. Task Force: CA has established a Connecting Columbia Task Force that is providing guidance to the Columbia Association as it develops the active transportation action agenda. It is comprised of community members who have a variety of interests and experiences using active modes of transportation on Columbia pathways.
- SEPTEMBER 12 – Task Force Meeting
- JUNE 26 – Task Force Meeting
- APRIL 19 – Task Force Meeting
- MARCH 15 – Task Force Meeting
- FEBRUARY 16 – Task Force Meeting
- JANUARY 26 – Task Force Meeting
- NOVEMBER 29 – Task Force Meeting