Park district asked to consider bike trail options north of BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News The Wood County Park District Board was asked Tuesday to shift gears to add more bicycling options in the county. With May as National Bike Month, former park board member Frank McLaughlin returned to the park district to push for more bike trails. He talked about the high use of the Slippery Elm Trail between Bowling Green and North Baltimore. “I suspect it’s one of the most frequently used parks in the county,” he said. On the weekends, the trail is “like a freeway,” with bicyclists, walkers, runners and people pushing strollers. But if a bicyclist wanted to head the other direction out of Bowling Green, there are no safe options. “For anyone who wants to ride a bike north of Bowling Green – good luck,” McLaughlin said. “Riding a bike on a two-lane road in the country, it’s rough.” For years, bicyclists in much of northern Ohio have benefitted from the North Coast Inland Trail – a paved bike trail from Elyria to Elmore. But there it stops. The nine miles between Elmore and Millbury have not been completed, nor have the 10 miles in Wood County, from Millbury to Perrysburg. In Lucas County, the trail starts up again and hooks up to the Wabash Cannonball Trail and heads west out of Toledo. McLaughlin said he is disappointed that “the lost link between Cleveland and Wauseon” is Wood County. Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger reminded that the miles between Millbury and Elmore also remain incomplete. Munger said the park district is waiting for the leg of the trail to reach Wood County from the east. McLaughlin asked if there are any plans to pursue grants for the missing link of the bike trail. “I know stuff like this is not cheap,” he said. The region has worked together on the bike trails in Lucas County, with the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments teaming up with Toledo, Lucas County, the metroparks, Wood County, and the park district. The biggest expense to link up with the trail in Toledo is the need for a bridge over the Maumee River – which is estimated to cost $4 million. “That’s the big barrier there,” Munger said. “I’m convinced down the road it will happen,” Munger said. But McLaughlin would like the park district to pursue extension of the bike trail – not just…

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Mountain biking park and path explored along Slippery Elm Trail

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Park District is hoping to hitch a ride on the off-road mountain biking craze. On Tuesday, the park board voiced support for a proposal to create pump tracks in Rudolph and a mountain bike trail in the savanna area along the Slippery Elm Trail. Park naturalist Craig Spicer presented a proposal for both concepts during the monthly park board meeting held at Harrison Park in Pemberville. The mountain biking park and trail would help the district attract teens and young adults. A survey conducted earlier this year showed only 6 percent of the county park users were college student age. All parks suffer from the same difficulty luring teens and young adults, Spicer said. “They are one of the most finicky audiences,” he said. According to Spicer, off-road and sport biking are growing in popularity. “This is a good opportunity to ride that wave,” he said. The creation of an off-road biking park in Rudolph, and a trail north of the community would also be an investment in a county park in the southern part of Wood County. Currently just five of the county’s 20 parks are south of U.S. 6. “There’s a little bit of imbalance there,” Spicer said. The proposed park would be located in the one-acre area already owned by the park district along the Slippery Elm Trail, just south of Mermill Road. The park board voted last month to have unused farm silos removed from the property. A proposal created by Pump Trax USA shows a park with a “strider” track for little kids, a beginner track, an intermediate and advanced track, and a skills trail for mountain biking. The area would have parking for 30 cars, a bike fix-it station, and a covered shelter house. “This project fits our mission,” Spicer said. “I think it will attract people for years to come.” Maintenance of the park would be similar to the neighboring Slippery Elm Trail, since the bike park courses would be constructed of cement or asphalt. Don DiBartolomeo, of the Right Direction Youth Development Program, told the board he would offer programming for free at the bike park. DiBartolomeo is in the ninth year of running the non-profit youth support program Right Direction, and organizes programming at the skate park in Bowling Green City Park. “Having something like this skills track is huge,”…

Some young cyclists find BG drivers unwilling to share streets

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Reagan Otley, 12, and a friend were bicycling down Conneaut Avenue recently when a driver laid on the car horn and scolded the girls. “I hear a horn behind us. As they drive by, they rolled down the window and yelled, ‘Don’t take up the road with your bike,’” Reagan said. Not one to be unjustly lectured, Reagan yelled back. After all, she and her friend were following the rules. They were on Conneaut Avenue, where signs are posted saying bikes can use the full lane, and where sharrows are painted on the road pavement. “Bikes may use the full lane,” she shouted at the driver. As Bowling Green is encouraging residents to bicycle in town, some of the younger cyclists are finding that some motorists aren’t very receptive to sharing the road. “This isn’t the first time that people have honked at us for being in the road,” said Reagan, who knows the rules of the road for bicyclists. She serves as the middle school representative on the city’s Bicycle Safety Commission. And her mom is Kristin Otley, director of the city’s parks and recreation department, who has been trained through the Yay Bikes program. “I get mad when people honk or yell at me for doing what I’m supposed to be doing,” Reagan said. In Ohio, bicyclists are allowed to use the entire lane for travel. Motorists are supposed to give bicyclists three feet of space when passing. The Yay Bikes program, which is being used to educate bicyclists in Bowling Green, suggests that cyclists don’t ride along the road’s edge where debris lies, but rather a couple feet into the lane – about where the passenger side tire of a vehicle runs. “They want you to own a lane,” Kristin Otley said. Cars are supposed to pass bicyclists as if they are another motor vehicle – even if there is a double yellow line, Otley said. Yay Bikes focuses on educating bicyclists on proper road etiquette, like using hand signals and complying with traffic signs for motor vehicles. However, it appears that local motorists may also need to brush up on the rules for sharing the road, Otley said. Motorists may prefer bicyclists to ride on sidewalks, but that isn’t advisable except for very young children, Otley said. “Every driveway becomes another potential intersection,” she said. And while cyclists…

BG peddling monthly ‘slow roll’ bike rides in city

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The city of Bowling Green is planning monthly bike rides to encourage residents to leave behind their four-wheel transportation for the two-wheeled option. The first “slow roll” bike ride will be held Sunday, June 24, starting at 2 p.m. It will begin and end at the Girl Scout Building located in City Park. “We want to get residents to feel more comfortable riding their bikes – especially families,” said Amanda Gamby, the city’s sustainability coordinator. The goal is to make biking second nature for local citizens. “Let’s say you want to get ice cream,” Gamby said. “Instead of piling into a car for the one-mile trip, they can hop on their bikes.” To make the monthly free rides more appealing, the city is giving each one a theme. This first ride titled, Just Chillin’, will include a stop at the Black Swamp Preserve for a brief presentation from naturalist Cinda Stutzman on how animals stay cool in the heat, and an additional stop for ice cream, provided by the Sundae Station. All participants will also receive a free day pass to the City Pool after completion of the ride. “We want to entice people who may be on the fence,” about riding bikes in town, Gamby said. “Each month will have a different theme. We’re excited about it.” The route for this ride covers five miles, with the longest distance between stops being 1.5 miles. It is recommended that young riders, not able to travel these distances on their own, participate via a tow behind trailer or child bike seat. These rides are meant to be more recreational in nature and will travel at a speed comfortable for all riders. In addition to the goal of being enjoyable, the monthly rides will also stress the importance of safe riding practices and responsibilities of riders while navigating city streets. Multiple trained leaders will model safe biking behavior, such as proper hand signaling and lane positioning. Gamby is hoping the rides make residents more comfortable on city streets, and make bicyclists aware of the routes that may work best for them. “We want people to know they can safely bike in Bowling Green and have fun,” she said. Additional monthly rides are planned for July through October and will take place on the last Sunday of each month at 2 p.m. Future rides will…

Crossing Gypsy Lane to get to Slippery Elm Trail is a hazard

I want to talk today about the crossing of the Slippery Elm Trail at Gypsy Lane Road.  I have been riding the Trail since at least 2009, and in that time I have noticed a significant wait time sometimes at that crossing.  I have also noticed many families, some with small children, on a family outing waiting to be able to cross. This situation concerns me.  We need either a stop sign or a traffic light there. It would be a catastrophe if we waited until a cyclist was hit or killed. With more and more motorists not paying enough attention to cyclists on the roads we need to make the Slippery Elm Trail a safe place for cyclists, both young and old.   Lori Terwilliger Bowling Green

Rick Busselle: Cooperation between drivers & bikes in BG is “mostly illusion”

I appreciate the public efforts of Bowling Green drivers and bicyclists to cooperate.  But from my perspective it’s mostly illusion.  I ride my bicycle several days a week.  Most days at least one person passes within six or eight inches of my handlebar.  Not infrequently someone passes while ignoring oncoming traffic, leaving me plenty of room, but forcing an oncoming car to yield their own lane by slowing abruptly, veering to the far right, or, in one case, driving into a yard.  Admittedly, most drivers accommodate a bike in their lane.  But many don’t.  I estimate about 20-percent.  This morning a driver veered left of center to pass me and ran an oncoming car into the curb.  When we both stopped, I said to the driver, “I appreciate your giving me the space, but you have to watch for the oncoming cars too.”  Clearly this was my mistake as their response was “the old familiar suggestion.” My observation is that when bicyclists, citizens and elected officials speak publicly, everyone is very pleasant and supportive.  Just like when bicycles ride in organized groups with signs and tee shirts, drivers politely honk and wave.  But when no one is watching there is a significant group of drivers who have little regard for anyone but themselves. I apologize to the person I spoke to this morning.  From now on, I’ll keep my thought to myself, even when my thought is “the old familiar suggestion.” Rick Busselle Bowling Green