Fargo, ND Metropolitan Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan
Status: Last Updated in 2005
(Selected sections from the plan. To view the entire plan with tables and graphics, refer to source file.)
FM Metropolitan Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan 2005
Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Council of Governments
- "Bicycle transportation facilities and pedestrian walkways shall be considered, where appropriate, in conjunction with all new construction and reconstruction of transportation projects, except where bicycle and pedestrian use are not permitted." [TITLE 23 U.S.C §217]
In 2000 the USDOT adopted the “Recommended Approach” policy statement to encourage public agencies, professional associations, advocacy groups, and others to commit themselves to integrating bicycling and walking into the mainstream transportation planning. The purpose was to reduce dependency on automobiles and encourage alternative means of transportation. With growing concerns about traffic congestion, pollution control, air and water quality, energy efficiency and healthy life styles, it has become essential that alternative modes of travel be promoted. Moreover, efficient non-motorized means of transportation not only accommodate the growing needs of a region but also cater to the element of diversity. In recent times, bicycling and walking have also been considered as “quality of life” indicators. Various studies have shown that people and businesses are attracted to regions with good bike and pedestrian systems. The 1994 American Lives’ Shopper and Homeowners Study and the 1999 Community Preferences Study revealed that "walking and biking paths" ranked third among 39 features identified by home buyers as crucial factors in their home-purchasing decisions. The first and second ranks were held by "low traffic and quiet streets" and "lots of natural open space". A survey done by Leisure Vision/ETC Institute for the Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Area in August 2005 reported that 54% of the respondents selected walking/biking/recreation trails as the most important recreation and fitness facility for them and their household. The survey also reported that 58% of the respondents actually use the existing walking and biking trails in the metropolitan area and about 65% of the respondents suggested a need for more walking/biking/recreation trails. An interesting fact also reported in the survey was that 60% of the respondents were willing to use their tax dollars for renovating/developing walking and biking trails.
For a rapidly growing metropolitan area like Fargo-Moorhead which increasingly houses a population from diverse backgrounds, developing an efficient bicycle and pedestrian network would ensure adequate multimodal choice of travel for its residents and enhance the community’s livability standards.
In an effort to achieve a desired standard of living in the Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan area, the first FM Metropolitan Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan was developed in 1995. The purpose of this document was to establish a 20 year vision that recognizes and promotes non-motorized means of transportation in the Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan area. Since then this document has been updated every five years to reflect the changing needs of the metropolitan area. This document is an update of the 2000 FM Metropolitan Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan.
The basic purpose of the 2006 Metropolitan Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan is:
- To provide a comprehensive guideline for developing an efficient region wide bicycle and pedestrian network which is feasible, usable, and acceptable by all classes of bikers and pedestrians
- To identify concerns and issues relevant to the bike and pedestrian system
- To address the identified issues and provide resourceful guidance to planners, stakeholders, developers, policy makers and other users to help design and promote a user friendly network in and around the metropolitan area
- To program relevant projects and support their eligibility for federal and state funding
- To ensure that the state and federal policies and recommendations are relevantly incorporated.
A. Health benefits:
- Bicycling and walking reduce the chances of coronary heart diseases and help diabetics. Research has shown that just cycling 20 miles per week can reduce the chances of heart disease.
- Bicycling and walking reduce obesity. Just 12mph on flat terrain burns 450 Kcal/hr. It is proven that cycling is a very good form of aerobic exercise. It raises the speed of metabolism. Medical studies have also shown that the body continues to burn calories for hours after cycling. It also keeps the lung mechanism in great shape and tones and trims the muscles.
- Cycling has been greatly recommended by medical practitioners to fight stress. Cycling helps the body release endorphin which is a natural stress reducer.
B. Environmental benefits:
- Use of modes that do not use gasoline reduce green house gas emission like nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide. Studies have shown that short trips by motorized vehicles cause the highest level of air pollution.
- Use of non-motorized modes also reduce noise and water pollution thus, reducing the chances of asthma, lung cancer and respiratory diseases.
- The use of bikes and pedestrian facilities for short trips would also reduce traffic congestion.
- Bicycles require just 25 calories per passenger mile of energy as compared to almost 1900 calories for cars. Thus, non-motorized modes also reduce energy consumption considerably. Motorized vehicle air conditioners are the largest producers of CFC’s – Chlorofluorocarbons which are the major causative agent for the depletion of the ozone layer which protects us from the Ultraviolet radiation that causes skin cancer and other skin related diseases. Thus, use of non-motorized modes would help control ozone depletion.
- Increased use of non-motorized modes of transportation would also help maintain the ecosystem balance. It takes about 130 trees to neutralize the effect of CO2 – Carbon dioxide emissions from one car each year.
- Finally, fewer motorized vehicles would require fewer roads and parking spaces which would save acres of green space.
C. Economic benefits:
- Increased use of bike and pedestrian facilities would save infrastructure costs considerably. It takes about $1 million per lane per mile to build an urban arterial roadway and about $135,000 per mile for a multi use path.
- The use of bike and pedestrian facilities would also save transportation maintenance costs since bikes cause less damage to roadways. Moreover bikeways and pedestrian facilities cost less to improve.
- Reduction in transportation and maintenance costs would require less tax money, thus allowing finite financial resources to be directed to other priorities or tax rates to be lowered.
- Use of non-motorized modes would help the user save fuel/energy cost, maintenance and parking costs and medical cost.
- A good bike and pedestrian system attracts new residents and so increases the property values of the place
- An efficient bicycle and pedestrian network attracts a talented and creative work force to an area increasing the livability standards of the place
D. Social benefits:
- Trails provide a source of low cost recreation for all segments of community
- An good pedestrian network increases social interaction
E. Transportation benefits:
- Use of bike and pedestrian modes makes neighborhood traffic relatively safer
- People with disabilities get a better chance to move around safely