TRANSPORTATION AND CITY PLANNING – Urban planning decisions have a tremendous impact on a child’s opportunity for contact with the natural world, determining whether a park is located within walking distance from home, whether a stream is left as a wildlife corridor or pushed underground in a culvert, and whether it is possible to walk or bike safely to school and neighborhood destinations. These strategies would improve access to the natural world:
Strategy #1: Encourage cities and counties to include Complete Streets which safely accommodate pedestrians and cyclists as a part of their general plans.
Complete Streets are roadways designed to safely and comfortably accommodate all users, including, but not limited to motorists, cyclists, pedestrians, transit and school bus riders. “All users” includes people of all ages and abilities. These programs serve not only to encourage physical activity by making it safer to walk and bicycle in the community, but they also increase safe access to nearby nature locations, schools, community centers and even travel to other homes in the neighborhood.
The Ohio Department of Transportation has created a new Multi-Modal Division. One goal of this new division is to improve the quality of life for residents by improving accessibility to active forms of transportation such as bicycling and walking. ODOT has partnered with several Metropolitan Planning Organizations across the state to develop their Complete Streets policies and is currently working on a statewide Complete Streets policy, implementation plan and relevant training.
- Complete Streets in Action:
The Ohio Department of Transportation has partnered with the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) to develop and adopt a Complete Streets Policy. Using a grant from the Ohio Department of Health, MORPC is currently developing a Complete Streets toolkit. This toolkit will contain model policies, engineering, education, and enforcement strategies, as well as a tool library with equipment that can be borrowed by its members for various projects. This is an example of how two state departments can partner with a municipality on a program which benefits all three organizations, improves the health of the community and makes nature more accessible to children.