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Winter is a notoriously slow time for trail news and trail usage. For this edition of Trail Talk we have fewer, but longer, articles about some of the activities going on around trail development in the Miami Valley. Leading off is an overview of the planning process begun by the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission to update the Regional Bikeways Plan. This long range vision and plan was first adopted in 2008 and serves as a guide for the development of bike transportation in the region. We'l learn how MVRPC is updating the plan and how you can have your voice heard in the process. Next we'll review the results of the Friends of Little Miami State Park's year-long project to perform counts of trail users along the Little Miami Scenic Trail. Finally, we have a preview of the 2015 Miami Valley Cycling Summit, the region's largest gathering of cycling advocates and decision-makers. We hope you enjoy these stories, and that they get you through a day or two of cabin fever. Thanks for reading!
The Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission (MVRPC) has announced a series of public input workshops on the update of the Comprehensive Local-Regional Bikeways Plan for the Miami Valley. The plan will develop an update to the Regional Bikeways Plan which was originally adopted in 2008. The public input workshops will be designed to be interactive in nature with the opportunity for citizens to share their thoughts, while providing those who attend information on the update effort. So, if you walk, bike, or rollerblade for transportation or leisure or you would like to and do not because of a lack of facilities or connections, please come out and share your thoughts and concerns.
Can't make it to a meeting? Take the Online Survey!!
In 2008, the Regional Bikeways Plan represented a real shift in thinking about bicycle transportation in the Miami Valley. Prior to this plan, the focus of this region was on the development of the Miami Valley Trails network. We can see the success of that effort on the ground today: the Miami Valley’s 300+ miles of shared use paths represent the nation’s largest network of paved, off-street trails. The 2008 plan reaffirmed the region’s commitment to building on this network, but also added a recognition that a comprehensive bicycle network was going to need to include on-road facilities for safe bicycling, because it will not be possible to build a shared use path to every desired destination. The 2008 plan recommended a variety of facility designs and a regional network of on-street routes to safely and conveniently allow people to add bicycling to their transportation mix.
One can see some early successes of this new thinking as well. Cities such as Dayton, Troy and Kettering have added bike lanes, sharrow lanes, and even a buffered bike lane. But even in the 7 years since the plan was developed the state of the practice in bike transportation has advanced. Cities and regions across the country are assessing their roadway networks for their level of traffic stress. That is, “How stressful is a roadway for a person riding a bicycle?” And the analysis asks a further question: “How connected are the streets that provide the lowest level of traffic stress? Can a cyclist reach destinations using only low-stress facilities?” MVRPC will be using Level of Traffic Stress Analysis to identify and prioritize future bikeways projects in the region. This 2015 update will examine existing regional and local inventory of bicycle facilities and identify, evaluate, prioritize, and recommend future bicycle projects at both the regional and local level. The emphasis will be on creating a complete system of low-stress bicycle connections in the region, including the Miami Valley Trails system and on-street bikeways.
The public meetings are scheduled as follows:
At all MVRPC public involvement meetings, interpreters for hearing impaired individuals or bi-lingual interpreters are available upon request. Requests should be made at least one week prior to the meeting date. Contact MVRPC at (937) 223-6323 or 1-800-750-0750 TTY/TDD to request an interpreter.
MVRPC is working with its partners: the Miami Conservancy District, Five Rivers MetroParks, Greene County Parks & Trails, the Miami County Park District and surrounding communities in this effort.
Learn more and take an Online Survey on the project website at http://www.mvrpc.org/bike-plan-update.
The Friends of the Little Miami State Park (FMLSP), the non-profit friends group for the 52 miles of the Little Miami Scenic Trail south of Hedges Road in Greene County, recently reported findings from a year-long volunteer effort to conduct a comprehensive count of trail visits in 2014. The bottom line figure from this project, the first since a manual count conducted in 1998, is an estimated 760,000 visits to the Little Miami Scenic Trail in 2014.
Paul Morgan led a team of three volunteers who positioned and maintained 8 infrared counter devices on a monthly basis in order to get month-long counts on all 22 sections of the trail. The trail sections are the same sections used by FMLSP Trail Adopters for maintenance purposes. With some advice from the National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation project, these monthly figures were extrapolated to annual figures, and the grand total number of 760,000. Morgan explained some of the assumptions built into the study methodology, including that 95% of trail visits are round trip visits. That means the overwhelming majority of trail visits involve starting and ending the visit at the same access point. Also, while it is possible that some longer distance users, particularly cyclists, were counted by multiple counters during one visit, this is assumed to be balanced by those users who never happened to pass a counter during their visit.
There were an estimated 760,000 visits to the Little Miami Scenic Trail in 2014.
The team picked up some key lessons-learned from this first year of the project which will be incorporated into the counting efforts in 2015 and beyond. The most critical lesson was about the performance of passive infrared counters in warm weather. Infrared counters look for moving heat signatures within their field of view; trail users’ body heat moving in contrast to background temperatures triggers a user count. Morgan’s team became convinced that in warmer months there was insufficient difference between the body heat from trail users and the background temperatures, resulting in an undercount. Ultimately they decided to not use any of the counts from May through September, and to test out active infrared counters, which use a sending and receiving unit and gave more satisfactory results. Future counts will rely on the active counters in the peak-season months. The report also indicated that all sections will have at least two months of counts next year and the most popular sections will have a full 12-month count in 2015. In the longer term, Morgan plans on using year-round counts from across the Miami Valley Trails network to refine those monthly extrapolation factors using data from our region.
Speaking of the most popular sections – can you guess the most visited sections of the Little Miami Scenic Trail? Based on the counts, the most popular access point along the trail is in Loveland, and a majority of trail users love to journey north from there for about the next 8 miles to the Lebanon Spur. But truly this counting effort was undertaken for the whole trail. The FLMSP want to build a data-based case to officials at the regional and State levels for ensuring adequate investment in the maintenance and operation of this enormously popular state park facility. With this first year of counting completed, it looks like the Friends are well on their way!
The fourth biennial Miami Valley Cycling Summit is happening on May 29, 2015 in Piqua. Join with hundreds of regional leaders and cycling advocates at the Fort Piqua Plaza in historic downtown Piqua, Ohio to share your passion for cycling and influence the future of cycling in the Miami Valley. Once again, thanks to generous support of Bike Miami Valley and numerous event sponsors, participation in the Miami Valley Cycling Summit is FREE.
The Miami Valley Cycling Summit is the region's opportunity to bring together in one location, for one day, they key individuals who are making decisions about the future of the Miami Valley and to share with them the importance that cycling culture has to our region. Let these leaders know about your passion. Help them learn how more people in the Miami Valley could add bicycling to their transportation mix. Talk to the planners and engineers who are working on integrating facilities in critical locations. Come to the Cycling Summit on Friday, May 29, 2015 in Piqua.
Heard of E-Bikes?? Here's an interesting report about an E-Bike survey.
The planning committee has been hard at work since just after the third Summit ended in 2013 in Springfield. The lineup of speakers and breakout sessions will be outstanding, once again. The keynote speaker will be Mayor Bill Peduto from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh recently hosted the Pro Walk Pro Bike Pro Place conference, and under his leadership the city has begun to reshape the streets to be welcoming of all forms of transportation. Separated bike lanes and transit lanes are making an active transportation center in the steel city.
Check out the Summit web site at www.cyclingsummit.com and like them on Facebook as well. You'll have all the latest updates on the schedule and registration. When you register, consider being a Summit volunteer as well! See you in Piqua during Bike Month!