By: Taylor Barker and Emily Francis, Enviro Ithaca

The percentage of people in Ithaca who use environmentally conscious modes of transportation to get to work is above the national average, but the Downtown Ithaca Alliance, the City of Ithaca and Tompkins County are still trying to make these options more accessible.

11.8 percent of people take the bus to work in Ithaca according to census data for the City of Ithaca in 2010, whereas 5 percent of people nationally used public transportation to get to work between 2008-12 according to census data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Even though the statistics for Ithaca are well above the national average, the DIA’s Strategic 2020 Plan puts significant emphasis on improving transportation options for the Ithaca community.

“Downtown really is a hub, a transit hub, as well as an employment hub, and it’s becoming a residential hub,” Gary Ferguson, executive director of the DIA, said. “The idea would be transit corridors to help people get to where they need to go, to their places of employment.”

The main transportation goal in the plan is creating transportation corridors, with quick means of transportation between downtown and Cornell University, Ithaca College and the west end waterfront.

Other transportation goals that relate more with environmental concerns deal with transportation management demand programs (TMD). The Ithaca Carshare was a TMD that was launched to give people an alternate method of transportation in 2008. The mission for the organization is enhancing transportation options in the community, while also decreasing environmental and economic impacts. Since the organization started there have been 3,400 members, and currently there are 1,400 active members, Anna Cook, Operations Director for the Ithaca Carshare, said.

“Rather than just being a per hour car rental, it’s about providing an option that lets people own fewer cars,” she said. “I would always encourage people to ride the bus, or bike, or walk when they can, and then having access to the car sharing fleet allows them to rely less on individual vehicles.”

For every car share vehicle, 15 personal vehicles are taken off the road, according to a November 2013 Transport Policy study. Ithaca Carshare has 24 vehicles as of August 2014, which means about 400 personal vehicles have been taken off the road in Ithaca.

More accessibility and resources for bikers and pedestrians is another area the DIA is looking to improve upon. Between 2000 and 2010 significant progress was made for upgrading and expanding parking facilities, which is looking to be mimicked for bikers and walkers. Bike shelters, bike lockers, changing rooms and showers, and improving connections between downtown and residential areas are suggestions for improving alternative transportation options, according to the report.

Two percent of people in Ithaca bike to work according to the 2010 census data, which is 1.4 percent higher than the national average, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Ithaca College has made their own improvements towards a more bike-friendly culture in the past two years. Matthew Dezii, president of Bomber Bikes, said its most recent project, an on-campus bike share program, is a step in the right direction.

“Our latest project, we’re very proud of, is our bike share. We just got the green light, a go-ahead from Risk Management to conduct a bike share. Now all we’re waiting for is the weather,” Dezii said.

As a student and cyclist around the Ithaca area, Dezii feels there are improvements the City of Ithaca can make to create more bike-friendly streets. “Bike racks near bus stops — a lot of people use the bus in the Central New York area, so you could bike to the bus and then bus to work. Even the combination of different modes of transport is a great way to spread bikeability,” he said.