Transportation Strategy 4: Green Landscaping

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 #4: Promote the adoption of green landscaping municipal ordinances encouraging planting of native and adapted trees and plants.

The Ohio Department of Transportation’s Division of Highway Operations is currently reviewing all of the Department’s practices and guidelines to develop an integrated and comprehensive vegetation management plan for ODOT’s right-of-ways to ensure that ODOT is a responsible landowner and neighbor, promotes energy and environmental benefits and biodiversity, and maximizes the economic return to the citizens of Ohio.

Because ODOT’s natural resource mitigation areas are preserved in perpetuity, they could serve as islands or “nodes” of wildlife habitat, or as corridors to connect with adjacent natural areas. Long term, they could serve to develop statewide green infrastructure. All new ODOT culverts are designed to maintain stream continuity on both sides of the roadway. ODOT currently plants hardy, salt-tolerant trees, native grasses and wildflowers where possible, and uses “green herbicides” where possible. These practices promote plant and animal life and biodiversity, as well as the energy and environmental benefits of vegetation.

Transportation Strategy 3: LEED for Neighborhood Development

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 #3: Create incentives for property developments meeting the LEED for Neighborhood Development standards, which incorporate protection of green space and wildlife habitat, and promotion of physical activity.

The U. S. Green Building Council has developed the LEED for Neighborhood Development standards in order to encourage healthier neighborhoods – healthier for the environment and healthier for people. In order to encourage these kinds of developments, many municipalities will allow tax abatements for projects meeting the LEED standards. For example, the City of Cincinnati adopted a measure providing an automatic 100% real property tax exemption of the assessed property value for newly constructed or rehabilitated commercial or residential properties that earn a minimum of LEED Certified.

Members of Ohio’s regional U. S. Green Building Council are currently reviewing the standards for LEED-ND and LEED for Schools, discussing ways to increase green space and children’s access to it in the urban environment. Examples of items under discussion are school gardens and natural play spaces, including the possible use of vegetative roofs for those purposes. As our population grows and Ohio becomes more urban, it is essential to take into consideration the needs of our children so they will have safe natural places in which to play and learn. USGBC members are also continuing to build relationships with cities and counties, educating them on LEED-ND and the types of incentives being implemented across the country, like fast track permitting and permitting fee reimbursement.

Transportation Strategy 2: Safe Routes to School

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 #2: Encourage the implementation of Safe Routes to School programs.

Safe Routes to School is a program to improve safety and encourage more children, including children with disabilities, to safely walk and bicycle to school.

Since December of 2007, the Ohio Department of Transportation has awarded $21 million in Safe Routes to School Funds. Over 150 communities in Ohio will benefit from these funds aimed at making it safer for students in grades k-8 to get to school using active transportation. Projects funded range from school crossing improvements to bicycle education programs. Not only does this program increase students’ activity level to help stem the childhood obesity epidemic, but it also helps reduce school transportation costs – a great example of solving multiple problems with our funding dollars. Details about Safe Routes to School.

And, this successful program is slated for improvement. In order to be eligible for SRTS funding, communities must first develop a school travel plan. Currently ODOT helps communities by funding a portion of these plans for up to four schools. They are in the process of developing guidelines that can be used to develop a school travel plan for an entire school district. Ohio will be the first state to develop a procedure that can be replicated in every large school district around the state. Also, over the next two years, ODOT is launching a major comprehensive educational initiative for Safe Routes to School and Share the Road campaigns.

Transportation Strategy 1: Complete Streets

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.