The North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) has completed a first of its kind transportation plan called NDMoves. This is the branded name for the North Dakota Statewide Active and Public Transportation Plan. A first of its kind statewide transportation plan that combines bicycling, walking and transit planning. Possibly, a first of its kind in the United States. The most recent statewide planning document related specifically to walking or bicycling was the statewide bicycle plan adopted in 1994. For the most part, it “sat on a shelf” at the NDDOT because there was little if any internal interest and will to allocate funding toward any significant implementation of the plan.
So what does this new plan do that the old bicycling plan didn’t do? The development of the NDMoves plan brought together the building energy and interest in active transportation of transportation planners, public health officials, and residents from around North Dakota with a cultural change at the NDDOT. This energy and interest grew significantly beginning in the mid 1990’s.
A parallel energy was growing in the early 2000’s with an interest in the revival of downtowns in North Dakota. These redevelopment interests helped to drive discussions around walking and bicycling, especially the feasibility of these forms of active transportation. As one would imagine, the growing energy and interest around walking and bicycling found its primary lifeblood in the urban areas of North Dakota, especially Fargo, Grand Forks and Bismarck.
As discussions took place in planning meetings and among planners around North Dakota the discussions trickled into legislative circles. One of the larger ripples was felt when planning discussions led to the NDDOT looking into the removal of the statewide sidepath law. The statewide sidepath law was removed by the legislature and state transportation dollars were freed up to be used by local governments.
North Dakota as a whole appears to be seeing the value in walking and bicycling. As cities in North Dakota have grown an interest in walking and bicycling there has been an upward flow of information to the NDDOT.
Another parallel that has been growing in the United States is the Vision Zero effort around the United States. The premise of the Vision Zero effort is that we should attempt to reach zero deaths as a goal every year. This is a very different approach than the past approach which assumed there would be a certain percentage of fatalities every year and that was just “the price of doing business” on public roadways.
It’ s a new era in North Dakota. No deaths are the goal and the NDDOT has come to see that the residents of North Dakota want a more equitable transportation system. NDMoves will help make these goals happen. You will help make these goals happen.
Sincerely Yours in Cycling and Walking,