Proposed ban on downtown sidewalk bicycling tabled

By LOU WILIN
STAFF WRITER

Findlay City Council on Tuesday tabled for further study a proposed ban on bicycling on Main Street sidewalks downtown.

The legislation was sparked by complaints about bicyclists nearly colliding with pedestrians on downtown walks. The hazard seems to have grown with several downtown Main Street restaurants offering dining on sidewalks.

However, the legislation has run into criticism.

A Blanchard Valley Center client said he and others use their bicycles to shop for groceries and other items downtown. While city officials have said bicyclists could use downtown alleys as an alternative to Main Street, Charles Ramirez said truck traffic makes it dangerous to use an alley near his residence.

At Ramirez’s request, city administrators will research how many pedestrian-bicyclist crashes have occurred downtown over the past year or two.

The proposed ordinance would ban everyone from riding a bicycle on Main Street sidewalks in an area bounded by Lincoln Street on the south, and by the first alleys east and west of Main Street. Council on Tuesday moved the proposed northern boundary of the ban to the south side of the Blanchard River bridge on Main Street. The proposed northern boundary had been Center Street.

Councilman Grant Russel, R-At-Large, said he feels strongly about a ban after studying many other “bicycle-friendly” communities.

“I am challenged to find one that allows or encourages bicycle riding on sidewalks in downtown areas,” he said. “It is quite simple: bicycles and pedestrians do not mix.”

But in light of changes coming — a bike lane will be built this summer on Cory Street, and downtown alleys will be improved — Russel favored tabling the legislation for further study.

Councilman Ron Monday, R-3 agreed.

“I don’t feel comfortable voting for this right now,” he said.

He fears the ban on sidewalk bicycling on Main Street downtown would steer bicyclists onto the road.

“I’m not real interested in forcing bicyclists to be out riding in a lane of traffic with motorists,” Monday, a retired police officer, said. “As a policeman, I’ve seen too many accidents where a bicycle and a car were involved. And the bicycle never wins. I think this should be looked at further.”

Monday suggested looking at how other cities in Ohio regulate bicycling in their downtown areas.

Wilin: 419-427-8413
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