In recent years, the City of Columbia and partners have taken steps to improve its multi-modal network and advance the culture of bicycling and walking and transit. Examples include additions to the Three Rivers Greenway, the completion of Phase I of the Vista Greenway, installation of bicycle corrals and the first HAWK pedestrian signal in South Carolina, as well as successful programs like Bike and Walk to School Day, “handlebar happy hours,” and the creation of the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC). In 2008, Columbia earned the national designation as a Bicycle Friendly Community and in 2012, the University of South Carolina became the first Bicycle Friendly University in the state and one of only a few dozen around the country.
Columbia, however, like many communities, can be challenging to navigate on foot and by bike. In some cases, even transit is difficult to access. Columbia’s streets need to be designed to move people, regardless of their choice of travel mode, and to remove barriers to pedestrian and bicyclist mobility. Creating active transportation and transit access to destinations in Columbia will improve the quality of life for residents, enhance the experience of visitors, and positively impact the region’s health and economic vitality.
To that end, the Central Midlands Council of Governments has partnered with the City to develop a Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan and Bike Share Plan, called Walk Bike Columbia, with funding provided in part by the Federal Transit Administration, Palmetto Health, and Abacus Planning. The planning process kicked off in May 2014, and the Walk Bike Columbia Plan was adopted by City Council as a component of the Comprehensive Plan in May of 2015. The project recommends a network of complete streets for the City of Columbia, as well as biking and walking related programs and policies. As a result of the planning process and Plan adoption, in October of 2015 Columbia was designated the first nationally designated Walk Friendly Community in South Carolina! The adoption of this Plan also sets the stage for the City of Columbia achieving a higher national designation as a Bicycle Friendly Community.