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Letter: United efforts make Columbus more friendly place to bicycle


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Note: The statements, views, and opinions contained in this letter to the editor are those of the author and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of The Republic.

From: Michael Whitworth

Columbus

Received: Dec. 8

We are blessed with a remarkable expanding array of bicycle paths and bicycle-friendly streets in the Columbus area. In addition to the many paved miles of People Trails, parks, shared lanes and bicycle lanes throughout the city, there is now a greater awareness by motorists of the rights of bicyclists to share the city and county roadways.

The corollary is an enhanced understanding of the responsibility of bicyclists for safety measures when engaging in road riding. The efforts for producing this venue for safe cycling and awareness of safe cycling on the streets are due to many dedicated individuals, organizations, city departments and city officials extending back decades.

 Bicycling has a long history in Columbus, with a 1933 report in The Republic citing Simon Gressel having ridden 50,000 miles on three different bicycles from 1889 to 1933 delivering groceries from fancy foods grocer F.W. Fehring and its predecessor, J.P. Sohn, at 201 Washington St.

Bicycle clubs in Columbus have existed for at least 30 years with the Driftwood Valley Wheelers Bicycle Club, later the Columbus Bicycle Club, and continuing through today with the Notorious Wednesday Night Road Riders and others.

Our two main bicycle shops, The Bicycle Station and Columbus Cycling and Fitness, have supported cyclists in charity rides and local events. There are many unsung heroes in the development of the People Trail, a term that was coined from a naming contest in 1985 after Mayor Robert Stewart appointed an investigatory committee that year.

With $50,000 of city funds, eight miles of trail were constructed in 1985; and since 1995 primarily private and non-city originated matching funds have been used to construct the trails. The Columbus Parks Foundation (on Facebook) has been the primary fundraiser for the trails since 2000 and works closely with the Parks and Rec Department. Dave Hayward serves tirelessly as President of the Foundation this year.

The community support over the years has been outstanding with land and monetary donations to support the expansion and maintenance of the People Trails. Our former mayor, Fred Armstrong, current Mayor Kristen Brown and members of the City Council dating back to 1985 have approved the plans and city engineering required to link the several separated sections of our city.

More recently, the introduction of the shared lane symbols on roadways frequently populated by bicyclists have helped bring awareness of cycling to Columbus. Although our city will never compete with the great European bicycling cities such as Amsterdam and Copenhagen, our cycling citizens do hold a deep appreciation for both the People Trails and the courtesy extended to cyclists on the road.

We have come a long way since the dirt roads traveled by Simon Gressel and look forward to a bright future with continued expansion of trails and cycling popularity. Thank you, Columbus, for making us a cycling friendly city.

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