By DENISE GRANT
A proposed bicycling ban on downtown Findlay sidewalks is making its way toward City Council for reconsideration.
Council’s Streets, Sidewalks & Parking Committee met Thursday to discuss a “dismount” policy for the downtown. Similar legislation was tabled last year.
The committee includes council members Holly Frische, R-1, Tim Watson, R-7, and Grant Russel, R-at-large.
In 2017, a proposed ordinance called for banning everyone from riding a bicycle on Main Street sidewalks in an area bounded by Lincoln Street on the south, and the Blanchard River bridge to the north. Under the proposal, bicyclists would have to take alleys, walk their bicycles in the downtown, or ride in the street.
Violating the rule would have been considered a minor misdemeanor and could have carried a fine up to $150.
Council, concerned with forcing bicyclists off the sidewalk during the heavy street construction along Main Street last year, decided to wait.
This year’s version of the legislation will likely be similar.
Russel said he would recommend extending the “dismount” zone further east and west, beyond the first alleys on both Crawford and Sandusky streets.
Many downtown businesses want bicyclists off the sidewalks, saying bicycle riders create a dangerous situation for pedestrians and a growing number of sidewalk diners.
Watson said Thursday the sidewalks are for pedestrian use.
Russel said the intention isn’t to ban bicycles from the downtown entirely. The legislation would just require bicyclists to park or walk bikes in the downtown area, or ride in the street.
Russel, an avid bicyclist, said dismount zones are not uncommon in other downtowns.
While bicycles on the downtown sidewalks remain a concern, projects completed this year and in 2017 were meant to make the city more bicycle-friendly.
A one-way dedicated bike lane, installed on Cory Street from Lima Avenue to Main Cross Street, opened this year. The lane is for southbound bicycle traffic, and is on the west side of Cory.
On Cory Street north of Main Cross Street, there is a “shareway” marked by signs for both bicycles and motorists.
Findlay City Council voted in June to accept about $1.7 million from the Ohio Department of Transportation from its Transportation Alternatives Program, or TAP, to extend the Blanchard River Greenway Trail, and to create lanes for bicycles along Blanchard Street and Lincoln Street.
The project would extend the Blanchard River Greenway Trail from the dead end at 1100 E. Main Cross St. to Bright Road.
Total cost of this part of the project is estimated at $421,052. The matching state grant will require the city to pay 5 percent of the project cost or $21,052.
The Greenway Trail extension is currently under design and is scheduled for construction in 2020.
The bicycle lanes on Blanchard and Lincoln streets will cost an estimated $1.3 million. The matching state grant will require the city to pay 5 percent of the project cost or $63,157.