After a long discussion, Worthington City Council on June 17 adopted a bike and pedestrian master plan and a complete-streets policy for the city.

Resolutions for both measures were amended to say that the plans are "an expression of aspirations and not a commitment to any particular procedure."

The bike and pedestrian master plan was adopted by a 6-0 vote, with council member David Robinson abstaining. The complete-streets policy was approved 5-2, with Robinson and council member Doug Foust voting against it.

Council members engaged in an extensive dialogue about the language in the two plans, saying they wanted to make sure the plans suggested changes but did not "lock in" anything.

"I wanted to make sure that we were clear in our intent to adopt it, that it was guidance and not mandatory," said council member Scott Myers.

Robinson said the language in both the plans and the resolutions is key because the studies contained in them could affect residents.

"They wield an authority with the public that will last many, many years," he said.

He said most of the concepts in the plan pertain to features added to infrastructure that aren't controversial and instead focus on safety and accessibility issues, but others had not been discussed thoroughly by the public.

"There are other portions of the study that I would say reach into value propositions, not what we might do, but what we ought to do," he said.

Jennifer Knoll, a principal planner with MORPC, which consulted on the project, said a complete-streets policy focuses on safety and convenience for all users of streets, and it matters within central Ohio because of unintended consequences of growth, such as vehicle crashes.

Meanwhile, the bike and pedestrian master plan will help guide the formation of future routes and link centers of activity throughout Worthington, according to the city's website, worthington.org.

The consultant for the plan, Blue Zones, both an organization and concept created by National Geographic writer Dan Buettner, strives to help communities become thriving places to live by using ideas taken from longevity hot spots or "blue zones."

Council member Doug Smith said he hopes some of the projects mentioned in the plan, such as bicycle boulevards, could be implemented during the next budget year.

Bicycle boulevards are low-speed, low-volume streets that could be shared by both cars and cyclists, according to the plan.

"I would hope in the next budget we can implement funding to start implementing these projects in 2020," he said.

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