Fitting bike paths into a car-and-truck crazy city will be challenging, but is a good idea. A growing community like Findlay needs to encourage alternative forms of transportation and yes, more active lifestyles.
But location is everything, and the initial proposal to merge bike lanes onto Blanchard Street and Lincoln Street needs further review. We hope city officials carefully consider citizen input before moving forward, and also hope the community keeps an open mind as the discussion progresses.
While Wednesday’s open house allowed opportunity for officials to answer questions one-on-one from those who attended, the format may have done little to advance the project.
Still, new Mayor Christina Muryn has an opportunity to build trust in the community with her handling of the bike lane project. By giving consideration to both pros and cons, and looking at alternative plans, she will show that all voices are being heard.
The issue would appear to be divisive, at least based on the early reaction to the plan, and Wednesday’s straw vote which appeared to tilt strongly with the opposition.
If that’s the case, the challenge for Muryn and council will be to come up with a more acceptable plan, knowing it will mean that much of the state funding for the project may disappear.
Alternative places for bike lanes would seem to be available if the main idea is to link Emory Adams Park to bike trails near Riverside Park and further east.
Especially with the part of the overall plan involving Blanchard Street, it would seem to make sense to find a less-traveled motor route to share space with bikes. Brookside Drive comes to mind. Fishlock Avenue would seem another possibility.
Ask any motorcyclist what it’s like to share space with cars and trucks, and then imagine a bike rider, especially inexperienced ones, using a path along a busy street, like Blanchard, during rush hour. Many may opt for another route.
One three-block section of the proposed bike lane on Blanchard is part of Ohio 37, where large trucks will travel. Center turn lanes or not, intersections could become more of a challenge with bikes in the mix.
One public meeting shouldn’t halt a project. But it should give pause to administrators and council. Backing down from the original plan and going back to the drawing board would be no sign of weakness, but an indication that input from the community is being considered — not dismissed.
In the past, some administrative decisions have arrived on the lap of council all but signed, sealed and funded based on limited public discussion. This project already has allowed for citizen input in various formats, in person, by mail, and via email. Comments can be submitted through Sept. 6.
At the end of the day, we hope the city moves forward with more bike lanes — somewhere. But let’s make safety, not money, the primary consideration before squeezing them onto already busy city streets.