LIMA — Activate Allen County has released an Active Transportation Plan for Allen County, which looks at bike lanes, sidewalks and safe routes.
Josh Unterbrink, from Activate Allen County, said the plan will take simple steps, such as including paths and bike lanes, will improve the health of residents, and will have economic benefits for the community.
Activate Allen County’s plan will total $46 million. The implementation of the different components of the plan will be funded from a variety of sources, including grants, Unterbrink said. Proposals may change as components are applied and community organizations still need to approve some components.
Unterbrink said the plan will make transportation easier and safer for pedestrians and motorists. The creation of this has been funded by the CDC Small Community Transformation Grant.
The Network Plan, recommendations and long-term directions explained in the executive summary of the plan, includes improving pedestrian road crossing areas, improving and building off-road trails, creating a network of bike routes in communities and restriping existing roadways to make them safer for automobiles and adding bicycle facilities.
The plan includes five potential types of bicycle facilities for Allen County: buffered bike lanes, conventional bike lanes, neighborhood connector routes, shared lane markings, and signed rural bike routes. It also includes a variety of proposed road crossings and spot improvements.
Marc Gellart, a bicycle rider, said on The Lima News’ Facebook page he would rather the money go toward roads and bridges than bike routes, which he believes are a waste of money.
The Greenway Collaborate and Poggemeyer Design Group are among the leaders and transportation planners from across the country that helped create the plan, which they have been working on for the past 10 months.
Norm Cox, from Greenway Collaborate, said there are two components to the plan: the physical infrastructure improvements and the supporting policies and programs.
There are a number of benefits the plan will bring, Cox said, from reduced health care costs to reduced traffic injuries to reduced pollution. He said this will make Allen County a more attractive community.
“We’re trying to provide independent, dignified travel options for people of all ages and all physical abilities to get around this community,” Cox said.
Activate Allen County’s website includes an “Interactive Public Input Map” that allows people to add comments to the map or to give a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” to the comments of others.
The executive summary of the plan states that 77 percent of Allen County is overweight or obese, according to the Lima-Allen County Regional Planning Commission. Also, 27 percent of adults report no leisure time physical activity.
The summary also includes a statistic from the CDC, estimating that medical expenses for obese people are 42 percent higher than those with normal weights.
“One thing we’ve all learned about improving health and getting people active is it’s not the gym membership. It’s integrating walking and bicycling in your everyday activities,” Cox said.
To make a plan that works for Allen County, Cox said they have been holding various, targeted events throughout the year and talking to members of the different communities to see what works best for each community.
Unterbrink said they will be scheduling education and presentation sessions for community businesses, government agencies, groups and service clubs to answer any questions they might have.
Those interested can review the plan at http://j.mp/AllenCoTrans.