$115M: OKI Funding Support for Bike and Pedestrian Paths
Cincinnati, Ohio – The Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Council of Governments has reached a milestone that should bring a smile to cyclists, runners and walkers alike. The agency has passed the one-hundred-million dollar mark in support of multi-use paths.
Since the launch of its Regional Bike Plan in 2010, OKI has awarded $115 million for bike- and pedestrian-specific infrastructure. In that time, the agency has funded 117 multi-use paths – also called bike trails, shared-use paths, bikeways, or bike paths. This number includes related sidewalk projects and Cincy Red Bike funding.
“We see these numbers growing in the years to come,” said Robert Koehler, OKI’s deputy executive director. “One of our biggest stakeholders – the public – told us that they want more investment in bike and pedestrian facilities, and we listened to them and to our local jurisdictions.”
In addition, there are 14 projects in OKI’s metropolitan transportation plan, also called the long-range or 2050 Plan, that are specifically dedicated to bike infrastructure. Also, many 2050 projects include bike and pedestrian infrastructure as part of other projects, such as roadway reconstruction.
For a summary of bicycle planning in the region, see OKI’s 2050 Plan’s Active Transportation section.
Wade Johnston, executive director of Tri-State Trails, said OKI’s partnering with local governments is building a robust network of bike and pedestrian trails. Tri-State Trails is a regional advocacy organization that has been promoting the growth of trails and bikeways since 2012.
“OKI funds are assisting in the building of the CROWN’s 34-mile trail loop and Riverfront Commons Trail in our urban core,” Johnston said. “They’re also helping to complete the Great Miami River Trail in Butler
County; link the Miami 2 Miami Connection between Butler and Warren counties; connect a perimeter trail around CVG Airport; and much more.”
Johnston was referring to the Cincinnati Riding or Walking Network (CROWN), a group of cycling advocates, trail builders and community leaders whose goal is to build more than 100 miles of connected trails throughout Greater Cincinnati.
Many communities within the OKI region “have been able to make meaningful investments in regional trails, and stretch their local capital dollars further, thanks in large part to OKI,” Johnston added.
Additional OKI bike- and pedestrian-focused initiatives:
- Complete Streets Policy: The OKI Board of Directors adopted a Complete Streets policy in November 2022. It requires applicants for OKI funds to seek ways to increase bike and pedestrian access and safety in their project applications. Complete Streets are streets designed and built to enable safe use and support mobility for all users.
- Red Bike Support: Counting next year’s funding support, OKI will have awarded more than $1 million toward Red Bike initiatives. This is money used for buying new bikes, building new kiosks, regular bikes, e-bikes and parts. Red Bike is a non-profit, station-based bike share system.
- Updated OKI Bike Route Guide: The guide, an interactive map, measures stress for cyclists of all skill and experience levels on roadways used while cycling. Bicycle stress is measured using roadway type and speed limit, the level of bicycle infrastructure and lane features. The guide also has useful information on how to travel the region, as well as maps that show shared-use trails and the most suitable on-road routes.
“It’s really a great time for cyclists and pedestrians, as far as having more options to travel safely and to more locations throughout our region,” Koehler said. “People want to feel connected and have access to the communities they live in.”
A reliable network of multi-use paths and sidewalks also “improves the health and wellbeing of a community’s residents,” Koehler added. “Bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure supports everyone, whether they need or choose to bike or walk to get to their jobs, schools, stores and services. OKI provides funding to help make this happen.”
OKI is a council of local governments, business organizations and community groups committed to developing collaborative strategies, plans and programs to improve the quality of life and economic development potential of the Tri-State.