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TRANSPORTATION

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T R A N S P O R T A T I O N

T R A N S P O R T A T I O N

At this point of the Greenway & Blueways 2020 Plan, two major elements

– Conservation and Recreation – have been analyzed. This next chapter on Transportation focuses on how to tie these together to create a cohesive, pedestrian & bicycle network in Northwest Indiana.


For the purposes of this plan, the discussion will center upon the safe movement of pedestrians and bicyclists, primarily on our regional roadways. The Ped & Pedal Plans went to great lengths to outline best practices and strategies towards these ends. The G&B 2020 Plan will also touch on these practices as well, but more so as a guide than a detailed overview. To this end there will be references to documents for additional study and application.


AN ABUNDANCE OF REASON$

Making the case for improving non- motorized connections in our region falls into three major categories: motorized vehicles, health, and economic benefits.


OUR RELIANCE ON ROADS

Few arguments are better for improving our quality of life than reducing our dependence on motorized vehicle

trips (cars, trucks, vans, etc.). In 2009, over 83% of all person trips were taken by an automobile, compared to 10% by walking, and only 4% by bike1. This represents a signifcant imbalance

of transportation choices, and with


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  1. National Household Travel Survey, U.S. De- partment of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, 2009


    these comes consequences we should consider within our region.


    Accounting for all costs, from fuel to insurance to depreciation, the average car owner in the U.S. pays $12,544 a year for a car. If you drive an SUV, then add on another $1,908.142. Now factor in the safety risks where the traffic death toll



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  2. The Absurd Primacy of the Automobile in American Life, The Atlantic, Edward Humes, April, 2016



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    in 2015 exceeded 3,000 a month, and where car crashes are the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 1 and 393.


    Worse yet are the air pollution risks where it has been estimated that 53,000 Americans die prematurely every

    year, losing 10 years of life on average compared to their lifespans in the absence of tailpipe emissions4. Combine this with traffic deaths, and health

    care costs relating to our automobile

    dependency are truly significant.


    Beyond our own personal costs are the enormous expenses on the public at large. The American Society for Civil Engineers has estimated that an annual expenditure of $191 billion will be needed to keep up our roads and bridges, well over the $91 billion that is



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  3. Ibid

BICYCING IS A BIG PART OF THE FUTURE. IT HAS TO BE. THERE’S SOMETHING WRONG WITH A SOCIETY THAT DRIVES A CAR TO WORKOUT IN A GYM.

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—BILL NYE, SCIENTIST


being spent currently5. Taken together, our society have a strong focus on the accommodation of automobiles.


OBESITY & US

NIRPC’s 2005 Ped & Pedal Plan mentioned over a decade ago that “America is growing…fat.” Unfortunately obesity rates have only increased - and


continue to threaten our collective quality of life. Between 2011 and 2014 it has been estimated that 36% of the

U.S. adult population is now considered obese6, which is up from 31% as first reported in the 2005 plan.


Along with our growing waistlines are our shrinking pocketbooks. The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars; the medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight7. This is also up from a reported cost of $117 billion in 2000.


A major culprit remains physical inactivity (along with poor nutrition as well). The typical adult requires at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a


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  1. CDC National Center for Health Statistics, Prevalence of Obesity Among Adults and Youth: United States, 2011–2014, November 2015

  2. Eric A. Finkelstein, Justin G. Trogdon, Joel W.

4 Study: Air pollution causes 200,000 early Cohen and William Dietz, Estimates Annual

deaths each year in the U.S., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Jennifer Chu, August, 2013

5 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, American Society of Civil Engineers, (online), 2013

Medical Spending Attributable To Obesity: Payer-And Service-Specific, Health Affairs, (online) July 2009



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T R A N S P O R T A T I O N

T R A N S P O R T A T I O N

week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity8. However, it is estimated that only 21% of the adult population meets these standards9.


One potential solution to increasing physical activity within our region

is providing a safe and accessible environment for one to walk and bike around in. The benefits of regular activity are enormous - from a healthier heart, to weight control, to reducing cancer risk and even improving one’s mood10.


IT’S THE ECONOMY...

Advancing a non-motorized network can provide a community with a windfall of economic benefits. There is an abundance of resources that strongly support people desire to live and work

As an example, a 2011 report found that bicycling and walking projects create 11- 14 jobs per $1 million spent, compared to just 7 jobs created per $1 million spent on highway projects11.


In addition, the location of pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure can improve neighboring property values. A number of communities that constructed “Complete Streets” projects (see page

111) showed marked increases in values, from 80% in Orlando, FL to 111% in Dubuque, IA12. Locations near multi-use trails have also demonstrated a solid relationship to increased home values13.


On a larger scale, the concept of “bicycle tourism” is rapidly becoming a popular option. Spurred on by the

where they can readily ride and walk.

11 Political Economy Research Institute,

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  1. Mayo Clinic, Health & Lifestyle Fitness, (on- line) August 2016

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Facts about Physical Activity, (online) May 2014

  3. For a detailed list of these benefits, please visit www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/data facts.htm.

Pedestrian and Bicycle Infrastructure: A National Study of Employment Impacts, Heidi Garrett-Peltier, June 2011

  1. Smart Growth America, Safer Streets, Stronger Economies – Complete Streets project outcomes from across the country, March 2015

  2. Headwaters Economics, Measuring Trail

    Benefits: Property Values, Spring 2016



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    development of the United States Bicycle Route (USBR) system, cross- country bicycling has become far more accessible with many sites catering

    to these two-wheeled tourists. In NW Indiana there are two USBR’s: Route 35 running north and south through central LaPorte County, and Route 36 running from Michigan into downtown Chicago. Both routes offer tremendous economic benefits for the communities they pass through.


    In addtion, the last major federal transportation law, the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or “FAST Act,” bicycle tourism is recognized as one of the national planning factors14.


    THINKING “NETWORK”

    Providing the proper infrastructure for the safe and accessible movement of pedestrians and bicyclists is paramount for any sound network to


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  3. For more information on taking advantage of bicycle tourists, please visit www. adventurecycling.org/bicycle-tourism.


thrive. A local municipality should plan comprehensively for the broad solutions available to make their community walk- and bike-friendly. Thus, the concept of a network must take hold at all levels

of government for a culture of non- motorized activity to emerge.


Starting with the rails-to-trails movement in the 1980’s, and now blossoming nationwide, an abundance of resources and design solutions exists to help any community, at any size, achieve a measure of success in their planning and development efforts.


Where off-road trails represent the “non- motorized superhighways” of our region, developing a network from these systems must be equal in importance to the hierarchy of our road network. Whereas interstates cannot connect to every destination, trails cannot serve as the only piece in a complete non-motorized network.

Bicycle Toursim Basics

The NIRPC region offers many opportunities to attract in bicycle tourists. National bike routes plus prime desitinations make NW Indiana an attractive area. Tourism can either be local with events and day rides, or be a major travel excursion across many states. An estimated $83 billion in trip- related spending is attibuted every year to bike tourism1. Of those who tour, 82% have a college education, with an average age of 52, and 58% make over $75K per year. Of these, 8% are international visitors2. Making

a community “bike friendly” is a major factor in attracting tourists.

  1. The Outdoor Recreation Economy, Out- door Industry Association, 2017

  2. Bike Toursim 101, Adventure Cycle Asso- ciation website


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    T R A N S P O R T A T I O N

    T R A N S P O R T A T I O N

    Providing safe routes from residential areas to places of employment, recreation, education and shopping serve to enhance transportation choice. Since about half of all trips are within three miles of our homes15, creating

    an accessible pedestrian and bicycle transportation network is critical for community-wide success.


    This section will take the time to unpack and touch upon the myriad of non- motorized policies and practices that can be employed rapidly here in NW Indiana. First, however, is an overview of the safety hazards at play today in the NIRPC three-county region.


    PERILS FOR PEDESTRIANS

    Exploring NW Indiana by foot or by bicycle can be a harrowing experience. Apart from the robust regional trail network, only a fraction of streets

    have been improved to aid in the safe

    movement of non-motorized traffic. Due


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    15 National Household Travel Survey, U.S. De- partment of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, 2009


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    to this fact, most people who do access our trails end up driving to a nearby trailhead; justifiably fearful of walking or biking due to a lack of infrastructure.

    However, trails are not the only issue at

    hand. Many destinations exist where safe routes need to be in place to give people additional access options other than the automobile. For decades our infrastructure has been focused virtually on the movement of automobiles, which limits additional transportation choices and connections to destinations people may want to connect with by bike or on foot.


    The dangers of negotiating our region roadways simply curtail individuals from walking or biking – no matter how close the destination. Narrow and/or damaged roads, congested intersections, and incomplete,

    broken or non-existent sidewalks are commonplace.


    To gain an appreciation of the dangers of today’s roadway network, Figure

    III-1 outlines the number of bicycle and pedestrian crashes that have occurred in NW Indiana between 2010 and 2016.



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    Figure III-1 Bicycle & Pedestrian Crashes 2010-2016


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    T R A N S P O R T A T I O N

    T R A N S P O R T A T I O N

    CREATING THE NETWORK

    In Northwest Indiana, as well as many other parts of the United States, incremental work is needed to make our communities walk- and bicycle-friendly. Addressing connectivity issues within our existing networks will take time, and it will take a concerted effort going forward to focus on network-wide solutions

    to counter our lack of non-motorized transportation options.


    Infrastructure solutions are available, and have been employed in several communities in the three-county NIRPC region. The following highlights the steps necessary to create communities with transportation choices.


    NETWORK PLANNING

    At the core of every walk- and bike- friendly community is a plan that supports its development and progress. Every municipality at the local and county level, should undertake a planning

    effort to inventory and suggest non- motorized network options. This involves

    piecing together all major infrastructure elements such as trails, bike lanes, sidewalks, shared routes, and intersection treatments.


    NETWORK ELEMENTS

    When creating a pedestrian & bicycle plan, a number of critical non-motorized infrastructure elements need to be addressed and mapped accordingly.

    These include the following:


Class I: Trails & Cycle Tracks Provides a completely separated option for the exclusive use of bicycles and pedestrians with cross-flow traffic minimized.

The trails are marked and landscaped. Fencing encourages use of designated access points.


Special caution must be afforded to the use of wide (8’ plus) sidepaths along roadways. These can be counter-productive due


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to numerous driveways crossing along the route, creating a hazard for path users due to the lack of visibility from the driver. Only consider these options for bicyclists if long distances occur between driveways.


A cycle track is an exclusive bike facility that combines the user experience of a separated path with the on-street infrastructure of a conventional bike lane. A cycle track is physically separated from motor traffic and distinct from the sidewalk. This is a helpful design treatment on busier roadways.

Class II: Bike Lanes

Provides a striped lane for one- way bike travel on a street or highway. Bike lanes are marked with signs and pavement striping, and sometimes even filled in with green or blue paint to further identify them from vehicular traffic. A one-to-two foot buffer strip can also be employed along the lane to increase the safety of users.


Class III: Shared Routes Provides for shared use with pedestrian or motor vehicle traffic. Bike routes are marked

with signs, with optional sharrows.

Sharrows are painted arrow symbols on the roadway signaling where bicyclists should ride. Wide shoulders (about four feet with

no rumble strips) are another design option which should be explored. Currently over 600 miles of these routes exist in Porter and LaPorte Counties, mainly on rural roadways.


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