The Indiana Bicycle Coalition recently asked Jill Long Thompson and Mitch Daniels for their positions on biking and bike issues. Both candidates responded to the IBC.
|I am grateful for the work the Indiana Bicycle Coalition does in promoting bicycling for health, recreation and as a means of transportation in our state. Your focus on bicycle education and safety has helped thousands of Hoosier children and adults take part in this fun activity without injury.
Indiana faces some significant health challenges that can be improved through increased physical activity and healthier eating. Bicycling is among the activities we promote as a part of INShape Indiana, the fitness initiative I started in 2005 to encourage Hoosiers to eat better, move more, and stop smoking. I’ve taken this commitment seriously as employer as well, and we have installed secure bike storage for state employees who choose to pedal to work. Because bicycling can be enjoyed by people of any age, anywhere, it can become part of a lifelong fitness routine.
I’ve also focused on improving opportunities for bicycling, walking and running by creating a statewide network of multi-use trails. At my direction, various state agencies came together along with a 40-member citizen steering committee made up of trail enthusiasts and other state and local organizations to develop Hoosiers on the Move. The goal is to put every Hoosier within 15 minutes of a trail. The proposed system is based on a thorough inventory of existing assets, analysis of important corridors and destinations, consultation with local government and regional planning entities, as well as public input.
We have made significant progress in implementing the plan in the past two years. In 2006, I committed to doubling the amount of state and federal funding invested annually in trails from $10 million to $20 million. We have kept that commitment and gone further. Earlier this year, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) made an additional $19 million in grants to 28 trail projects around the state, which will result in 104 miles of new trails being built and the acquisition of land for an expected 26 miles of future trail development. The state also purchased 150 miles of abandoned railroad corridor to be given to local governmental entities and trail groups for development. And, the state secured a grant from the Lilly Endowment to fund an additional 5 trail projects.
Many communities across Indiana have embraced the benefits that trails provide, including improved health and fitness, economic vitality, alternative transportation opportunities and the ability to connect cities and towns to each other and to natural and cultural resources.
We will measure our success in this area not just by the miles of trails that are built throughout the state, but by the numbers of individuals making use of them. Your organization plays an important role in educating others on all that bicycling has to offer. You can count on my continued support of your efforts to improve the health and well-being of your fellow Hoosiers, and to make ours a more bicycle-friendly state.
|Jill Long Thompson
To the members of the Indiana Bicycle Coalition:
Indiana, like the rest of the country, is facing a real economic crisis. The crisis on Wall Street combined with record job loss, rising health care costs and skyrocketing energy prices here in Indiana have impacted how Hoosiers are making decisions at the kitchen table. And, while it might sound strange, I think it’s changing how Hoosiers are looking at bicycles. While most Hoosiers just months ago probably viewed bikes as a source of exercise or entertainment, I think many are coming back to the idea of bicycles being a form of necessary transportation. The short-sighted policies from our current administrations, both on the national and state level, have led to an energy and gas crisis that should have been given serious consideration long, long ago. I have no doubt that this year you have seen a drastic increase in bicyclists riding through your cities and towns than in years past; I certainly have, during my constant travels throughout this State. This increase in usage brings even greater need for a discussion about safety and the best utilization of resources to encourage this form of transportation and recreation.
Trails across our great state are numerous and Hoosiers in every corner have access to trails, which I believe we should take pride in. Indianapolis has a new cultural trail to supplement the Indy Greenways that span our capital city and beyond. Closer to my home in Argos is the Plymouth Greenway, and the Lake City Greenway in Warsaw. Our Indiana state parks have many trails and there is much to admire about each of them. Being on the campaign trail has certainly limited the time I’ve been able to spend on walking trails over the past year, but I know greenways and other public pathways are always bustling with people spending time with their loved ones or alone – all while reaping the benefits of exercise and the fresh outdoors.
I certainly approve of the great attempt at inclusiveness by the Trails Plan Steering Committee, and I am glad to watch continued work and expansion being built upon the strong efforts of previous years. It is clear that planners are aware, and making use, of the fact that trails have many uses: not only encouraging health and exercise, but encouraging tourism, connecting scenic areas to an increasingly urbanized population, among many other benefits.
We need to look at “complete the streets” and, while not being an urban planner myself, I am sure this concept can be accomplished in some places and not in others. I may have to leave it to the traffic engineers to educate others or myself on how that concept can be applied, but I know that cities like Indianapolis and Bloomington have begun incorporating bicycle lanes and trials into their urban vernacular – a language rural Hoosiers have known for decades. As Governor, I will encourage the prudent expansion and study of opportunities like those.
I appreciate your support and encourage everyone to vote on November 4th.