Findlay, known as Flag City far and wide, could one day become known as a bike city. Before that happens, though, it will take some convincing that bikes should be able to share some roads with cars and some sidewalks with pedestrians.
The city’s next move into shared pathways comes next year as a plan to connect downtown with city parks and existing bike paths inches forward.
We like the idea of giving bikes their own space on city streets — if the shoe fits.
The Cory Street bike project, which linked downtown to the University of Findlay, was completed last year and has proven to be a good experiment. It hasn’t generated many problems and, while use appears limited, bike use should grow as more connector paths are added.
We question, however, the logic of adding dedicated bike lanes on Blanchard Street from Sixth Street to Tiffin Avenue as reported in Saturday’s Courier (Page A1).
The plan is to add a northbound and southbound bike lane, which will leave cars just three lanes for use. The middle lane will become a turn lane.
While that configuration may work on some streets, Blanchard is one of the city’s most traveled, especially between Sandusky and Tiffin. We imagine there will be heavy congestion in the car lanes, especially during the morning and afternoon commutes. Emergency vehicles could also have problems maneuvering Blanchard Street during rush hours.
Reducing driving lanes on Blanchard flies in the face of the argument used several years ago to support a downtown streetscape project. Officials then said they hoped to deter the “pass-through traffic” on Main Street to Blanchard Street to the east and Western Avenue to the west. They said those north and south alternative routes would be improved to handle additional traffic. To date, however, few improvements or modifications have been made to either Western or Blanchard.
Lincoln Street, on the other hand, seems a more logical place to add shared lanes for bikes. That part of the plan calls for bikes and pedestrians to share a widened path where the current sidewalk is on the north side of the street.
Extending the Blanchard River Greenway Trail from the dead end at 1100 E. Main Cross St. to Bright Road is also a good idea. While East Main Cross can be a busy road, it’s a better location for bike lanes because of the open space.
Another component, the widening of County Road 236 on the east edge of Findlay, makes sense, too. The plan is to widen the current two-lane road to create space for a third lane along with a shared-use lane on the east side.
The city will embark on the plan as the result of grant money from the state. To qualify for funds, the city must implement alternative transportation options, like bike paths, in the construction.
To her credit, Mayor Christina Muryn is inviting feedback from the community on the bike-related projects. We suspect there will be plenty, just as there was when the downtown plans were announced.
There will be opposition, no doubt, to taking road space from cars and trucks and sharing sidewalk space with pedestrians.
We hope Muryn, the city engineers and City Council will do more than just listen and will make modifications to the plan if opponents can make the case.
Bikes will never overtake motor vehicles in popularity in Flag City, but when more bike-friendly areas take shape and motorists get used to the changes, it will help make Findlay an even more active, healthy, inviting place.