Saturday, March 15, 2008

Westerville to Arena District Bikeway Initiative

Like many of us, the folks up in Westerville would like a way to get downtown safely and quickly on their bikes. Unlike those coming from Dublin, Hilliard, etc., the obstacle isn't the lack of east-west routes available. Rather, it's the preponderance of expressways and bike-unfriendly streets running north-south.

The Westerville to Arena District Bikeway Initiative is trying to use abandoned rail lines to get from their suburb to the downtown area, and avoid having to cross I-670, Morse Road, Dublin-Granville Road, etc. Here's their press release (from their blog):
The Westerville to Arena District (WAD) Bikeway is an initiative to build a commuter bikeway on an abandoned rail grade running through northeast Columbus. The rail grade in question is commonly referred to as the old Mt Vernon Right-of-Way (ROW). It begins at Cooper Park on the southern edge of Westerville and continues south to 17th Ave in Columbus. From there the trail will continue along rail lines and end below the Convention Center in downtown Columbus.

There are currently no safe, convenient, or fast means of commuting by bike from northeast Columbus into downtown Columbus. The main thoroughfares, Sunbury Rd., Westerville Rd., and Cleveland Ave., have no bicycle accommodations. That is to say, they are suicidal for all but the most hard core experienced cyclists. To avoid the Summit St./I-670 overpass, cyclists find themselves forced onto High St., the street with the highest bicycle-automobile crash rate in the city. The WAD Bikeway seeks to address these problems by providing cyclists with a bike-only, car-free route into downtown Columbus.

Abandoned railways have been converted to recreational trails all across the country and they bring a wide range of benefits to their communities. They help reduce traffic congestion and air pollution. They address obesity by providing children and adults opportunities for outdoor activity. They tie communities together by providing car-free access to schools, recreation centers, parks, swimming pools, sports venues, residential areas, shopping districts, government offices, and places of worship. Trails bring with them urban renewal. The WAD promises urban renewal to some of the most severely blighted areas of the city. Trails are proven to increase property values. Trails are proven to reduce crime. Trails also offer people an alternative to $3+ gasolines costs. By diversifying transportation options, trails reduce dependence on foreign oil. They also reduce the auto-emissions which cause global warming.

The bicycle network that the WAD Bikeway will create is almost beyond calculation. To mention but a few highlights, it will connect to the Alum Creek Trail at Cooper Park on its north end. It will connect to over 40 public and private schools that lie within a mile of the trail. In its mid-section, OSU will be accessible via 17th Ave. Fort Hayes HS, AIMS, CSCC, CCAD, Capital Law, the Columbus Museum of Art, and the I-670 Bike Path will all be accessible via the St Clair Ave bridge. At the southern end of the trail, Nationwide Arena, the Convention Center, the nightlife offerings of Short North and Arena District, and even the Olentangy Trail will all be within easy reach.

The WAD Bikeway is a recommended project in the City of Columbus Bicentennial Bikeways Masterplan. It is endorsed by the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department. It has gained the endorsements of the South Linden Area Commission, North Linden Area Commission, Northeast Area Commission, and North Central Area Commission. The Area Commissions of Northland, Italian Village East and Downtown are soon to follow.

It's a big project. It will be Columbus' third major trail. It will cost an estimated $10-12 million. There is much work to be done and a variety of skills and specialties are needed. Interested parties my email the WAD Bikeway Association at WADbikeway@gmail.com.
I wish them godspeed, though I'd personally much rather see on-street accommodations made for them as that will calm ALL traffic. That's personal preference, though.

People, not speed.

2 comments:

  1. The WAD sounds good on paper and all. I agree it would be nice to have a car-free path all the way to Downtown. But personally, I would be concerned about riding thru some of the neighborhoods mentioned on the press release. Just as I've mentioned before on other blogs, about the bridge that they're building on the Olentangy bikepath near Broadmeadows. Near the Apts. close to the bridge. The Police have had all kinds of trouble with occupants of those Apts. And I'm sure that once the bridge opens. That that will spill out onto the bikepath as well. ScottNorthSide

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  2. I feel good whenever i see someone who is not an Indian-born, respects Gandhi.

    Happy Biking dude.

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