Recent efforts and future ones to implement more bike paths and trails will only encourage more people to climb on a bike instead of jumping in the car for recreation, to get to work, or for short errands. Bicycling will improve our health and make the community more attractive to those who live and visit here.
But as we strive to be a more bike-friendly community, an emphasis must be placed on safety for not only those who ride bikes, but pedestrians and motorists, as well.
City Council’s Streets, Sidewalks & Parking Committee appears to have that in mind as it moves forward with rules that address downtown biking.
Last year there were discussions about restricting bikes from sidewalks on Main Street downtown, as the walks have gotten more congested in recent years with outside dining. Lunchtime brings a steady flow of pedestrians throughout downtown.
The 2017 proposal would have banned anyone 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. In that stretch, bicyclists would have to ride in the street, take alleys or walk their bicycles. Violations would have carried a fine up to $150.
Council put the legislation on hold until the downtown renovations were complete, but now appears ready to move forward with similar guidelines. Besides Main Street, the “dismount zone” may also extend further east and west beyond the alleys on Crawford and Sandusky, two of the busier streets in downtown.
The bike rules are needed and there seems no reason for further delay. If approved by council, they’d come at a time when the city is already gearing up to better accommodate bicyclists.
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.
More bike routes are coming, too. In June, council accepted 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 and Lincoln streets.
Bike parking has already become more convenient downtown. Some bike racks were incorporated into downtown renovations last year and are at various locations along Main. More racks may be needed as bike traffic increases.
There will be a learning curve as more bike riders and motorists share space on city streets. Traffic laws apply to both. Signs will be needed to mark the dismount areas.
But riding a bike on the sidewalk in downtown Findlay has never been safe. Council should put the rules in place that protect everyone who visits downtown, whether on foot, riding a bike or in a car.