Panel visualizes regional bicycle network


By Denise Dick

By DENISE DICK

denise_dick@vindy.com

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Have bicycle, will travel, whether by trail or by road, throughout Mahoning and Trumbull counties.

Eastgate Regional Council of Governments released a Regional Bicycle Plan earlier this month. Eastgate is the metropolitan planning organization for both counties.

“Eastgate supports the creation of a regional bicycle and pedestrian network that connects every community, regional transit, major activity centers and central business districts,” the plan says.

The bicycle piece will be part of a long-range transportation plan expected to be finalized in 2013.

The agency “will encourage routine accommodation of bicycles and pedestrians in all transportation projects in an effort to create connections between all modes of transportation,” the plan says.

Elaine Pekarovic of Austintown estimates that she rides the Mill Creek MetroParks Bikeway between Western Reserve Road and Ohltown Road for recreation three to four times per week.

“I would use it more if I lived closer,” she said.

Pekarovic drives from her home to the trail where she then rides her bicycle.

Several years ago, installation began on the Great Ohio Lake-to-River Greenway, a 10-foot-wide asphalt trail along abandoned railroad line.

It includes the Western Reserve Greenway that runs from Ashtabula to Champion Street East, just north of Warren, and the 11-mile MetroParks Bikeway that extends from the Mahoning-Trumbull County border in Austintown to Western Reserve Road in Canfield.

Two other links are under construction.

The Niles Greenway will connect Niles with the Mill Creek bike path. The first phase of the Warren Greenway will run from North River Road to Burnett Street East in Warren.

Other sections are planned including phase three of the Western Reserve Greenway, which will begin at Champion Street East and end at North River Road. Mill Creek’s third phase will run from Western Reserve to the Columbiana County line in Washingtonville.

The Warren Greenway phase two will complete the trail through that city’s downtown.

While Pekarovic regularly uses the Austintown-Canfield portion of the trail, she’s biked other sections too.

About a year ago, she rode the trail in Champion to Ashtabula and says she’ll likely use the future links when they become reality.

Other pieces in the concept stage according to the plan is the Western Reserve Greenway, phase four. It would connect Warren at Burnett Street East to Robbins Avenue in Niles.

Both Frank Krygowski and Paul Rienerth prefer road riding.

Both Poland men are members of the Out-Spokin Wheelmen cycling group.

Krygowski said he doesn’t often use the bikeways.

“It’s a linear park and should be treated that way,” he said.

His cycling has a more practical purpose.

“Personally, I ride as a form of transportation,” Krygowski said.

He rides to work at Youngstown State University and to the grocery, hardware and bookstore.

Krygowski and other cycling enthusiasts worked with Youngstown officials to develop a map of bicycle routes along roadways parallel to busier highways. It wasn’t published, though, because of a lack of funding.

Rienerth, the president of the roughly 300-member club, is a recreational rider. Much of that cycling requires him to share the road with motorists, some of whom are courteous while others, less so.

“Some are overly courteous,” he said. “They stop when they shouldn’t.”

While a cyclist is waiting to cross a roadway, a motorist may motion to allow him to cross.

“That’s actually against the Ohio code for traffic,” Rienerth said.

One of the issues addressed in the plan is a need for education.

“A combination of education and bicycle facility improvement may help to alleviate the perceived fear or riding bicycles, increase driver awareness of bicycles and correct any actual danger created by roadways that are not bicycle friendly,” the plan says.

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