Upper Arlington officials are hoping a series of recent and planned projects will enhance connectivity within the city and with other communities, which also should foster more active lifestyles.

Upper Arlington officials are hoping a series of recent and planned projects will enhance connectivity within the city and with other communities, which also should foster more active lifestyles.

Last month, Upper Arlington joined with Bexley, Grandview Heights and Columbus to apply for a $912,450 grant that, if awarded, would provide funding for the installation of 26 new bicycle-sharing stations in the four communities.

The grant would allow Columbus to add 13 stations to a program it introduced in July 2013, and it would enable UA, Bexley and Grandview to establish their first stations.

Upper Arlington seeks to install five stations, and Bexley and Grandview would receive four stations apiece. The local governments each would spend about $9,000 per station, if they receive the grant.

Like in Columbus, the UA bike share program would be maintained by the private company CoGo and would allow customers to rent and drop off bikes at the designated stations. Riders currently can purchase a 24-hour ride pass for $8, a three-day pass for $18 or an annual membership for $75.

"It ties directly into the goals and objectives of the city's master plan, which includes increasing bicycling opportunities," said Chad Gibson, Upper Arlington senior planning officer.

Gibson said the project is significant because bike share stations could increase connectivity and mobility alternatives in Upper Arlington and add convenience for residents who might want to bike to Ohio State University's campus or to their jobs or various points of interest in Columbus, Bexley and Grandview.

Additionally, he said, it could help encourage more active lifestyles.

"Almost two-thirds of the population of Franklin County is either obese or overweight," Gibson said, citing information from Columbus Public Health's Office of Epidemiology.

"Additional infrastructure that allows people to either walk or bike is certainly a positive, and it certainly might address some of those issues we are facing."

That's something the city's been trying to promote for a number of years, he said. Efforts have included installing bike lanes in reconstructed roadways, such as Tremont Road, and the installation of more sidewalks throughout the city.

Upper Arlington also secured two $250,000 State Capital Budget grants this year to enhance alternative transportation and mobility locally.

One will fund the extension of the Scioto Greenway Trail, a path that travels along the Scioto River in downtown Columbus, so that it will connect Upper Arlington with a current terminus on West Fifth Avenue. Upper Arlington is partnering with the village of Marble Cliff on that connection project.

The second grant will fund construction of 1,430 feet of shared-use paths on Zollinger Road, from Tremont to Northwest Boulevard.

"Walkability, connectivity - these are core elements that people want to have in their communities," Gibson said. "They don't want to get into their cars for everything.

"As we continue to repair our roads and sewers, you're going to see those bike lanes."

Brad Westall, planning manager for the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department, said Columbus already has 46 CoGo bike stations that make 400 bikes available to customers.

He said Columbus is excited to work with Upper Arlington, Bexley and Grandview because the seven-days-a-week, 24-hour program already has seen more than 129,000 trips taken since July 2013. The grant would allow the local project to become regional and grow by 30 percent, he said.

"Bike sharing has been a really popular, successful way to get around on short trips, whether you're a resident who just wants to get around a bit, whether you're a visitor who wants to see our city or whether you're a commuter using it for alternative transportation," Westall said. "This would really tie Upper Arlington into the OSU campus, to Grandview, to Grandview Yard."

Each of the four communities joining to apply for the grant is still determining where the bike share stations would be installed if funding is awarded.

Gibson said Upper Arlington has been taking public input through its website, and Westall noted the stations likely would be placed at "good points of accessibility that are walkable and near points of activity."

"Another factor is safety," Westall said. "What's a good street to ride on, and what's a good route to get around?

"We're excited to be working with Upper Arlington. They're a good, logical partner for us."

The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) is expected to award its grant next March.

Nick Gill, MORPC assistant director of transportation systems and funding, recently said the grant evaluation process had just begun; there are four other projects up for consideration, in addition to the application for bike share stations by Upper Arlington, Columbus, Bexley and Grandview, he said.

nellis@thisweeknews.com

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