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Indiana has more than 3,021 miles of trails and bikeways and 301 miles of rails-trails open for public use across the state.
Hoosiers on the Move: The Indiana State Trails, Greenways & Bikeways Plan, released in 2006 by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, set a goal of having a trail within 7.5 miles (or 15 minutes) of all Indiana residents by 2016. The plan also established a visionary system of statewide interconnected arterials.
In 2006, 83 percent of all Indiana residents had a hiking, biking, or equestrian trail available within 7.5 miles of their home. As of June 2012, Indiana now has a trail within 7.5 miles of 97.5 percent of all Hoosier residents. By 2013, almost 98 percent of all Indiana residents should be within 15 minutes of a trail.
The ultimate goal of Hoosiers on the Move – a trail within 7.5 miles of all Hoosiers – is on the verge of being realized. In addition, the build out of the nearly 1,000 miles of State Visionary Trails has progressed quickly because of the completion of several extensive trail corridors. In 2006, 131 miles of this visionary system were complete. As of June 2012, an additional 192 miles of this system had been completed, more than doubling the miles of completed visionary trails since 2006.
By completing several of the longest rail-trails in the state, Indiana can boast of having many more destination trails that will enhance tourism, promote healthy lifestyles, and help boost economic development along those corridors and in surrounding communities.
Trails provide a number of benefits, including:
• Economic: Numerous studies have shown that trails attract businesses to communities and boost tourism. Homeowners often see property values near trails increase, and trails can lead to new restaurants, bike shops, motels and more. – improving the quality of life for Hoosiers.
• Transportation: With growing concern over pollution and energy costs, more people than ever are looking for alternative ways to travel. By separating cyclists and pedestrians from vehicles, trail users can get where they're going quickly and safely.
• Infrastructure Corridor: Co-locating important infrastructure such as sewage, water, gas and cable lines underneath trails could serve an important dual purpose. Not only could this help pay for the cost of building trails, it could also bring important services - such as high-speed internet - to rural areas.
• Health: Trails provide Hoosiers with a place to recreate and exercise, which may lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels and stress. Trails also connect neighborhoods to parks, natural areas, sports fields and community resources. Increased physical activity will reduce the chances of heart disease, cancer and obesity and contribute to a healthy lifestyle.
Traditionally, trail development in Indiana has been paid for through a combination of federal and state funds, with local matching dollars coming from public and private sources.
The Hoosiers on the Move Progress Report, released in June 2012, notes that a pledge was also made to double funding of trails from $10 million to $20 million annually. The pledge to double funding for trails has been met or exceeded every year since 2006.
The primary means of accomplishing this was directing a larger percentage of annual federal Transportation Enhancement funding toward bicycle/pedestrian projects. Another major source of trail funding has been the federal Recreational Trails Program.
State funds and private funds for trails have also been secured and directed towards trails since 2006. Most recently, substantial amounts of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) special federal stimulus Transportation Enhancement funding has been made available for trails in Indiana.
Efforts are also underway to develop partnerships with utility suppliers that would pay to install lines under the surface of the trails being developed in certain areas of the state, and to identify other philanthropies interested in investing in trail development.
Planning for bicycle and pedestrian facilities continues throughout Indiana on the local level as well. Bicycle and pedestrian plans were approved in many communities, such as Fort Wayne, Northwestern Indiana, the South Bend-Elkhart area, Muncie, Indianapolis/Marion County, Hamilton County, Bloomington, Lafayette, Anderson, Goshen, the urban portions of Clark and Floyd Counties, Terre Haute, Madison, Zionsville and Kokomo. Many of these communities are refining their earlier plans.
The Bike and Pedestrian Suitability document is a draft document for public comment until May 31, 2013. Please provide comments either by completing and submitting the Public Comment Form, by email, or by writing to:
INDOT Technical Planning Section
Attention: Jay Mitchell
Division of Planning & Asset Management
100 N. Senate Ave., Room N955
Indianapolis, IN 46204-2217
Indiana Community Links
Long Range Planning-Transportation Planner
Indiana Department of Transportation, IGCN 955
Indianapolis, IN 46204