Bike paths and routes provide recreation and transportation

Members of the baby boomer generation can remember riding their bicycles for miles on city streets, on sidewalks and along the berms of country roads that were the secondary highways of the day.

It was not an exercise without its hazards — neither cars on the roads or pedestrians on the sidewalk always shared the space graciously. And, of course, the closest thing to protective headgear anyone wore was a plastic replica of a World War II army helmet that was popular in the post-war years.

Parents, of course, worried about the dangers; the riders never did. But the one thing neither worried about much back then was childhood obesity, and those one-speed coasters with their balloon tires and, later, sophisticated three-speed English racers with hand brakes and narrow tires probably had something to do with that.

A kid then could burn up a lot more calories in an afternoon of exploring near and far than one does today sitting in front of a TV or computer screen.

All of which serves as a long introduction into this relatively short editorial endorsing the Eastgate Regional Council of Government’s vision for a Regional Bicycle Plan.

It’s more, really, than a bike path; it is as Eastgate envisions it “a regional bicycle and pedestrian network that connects every community, regional transit, major activity centers and central business districts.”

A familiar goal

It is part of a larger trail that will eventually do something that seems to come naturally to this area, create a link between Lake Erie and the Ohio River. A canal to do that was a generational goal. A highway that does that became a reality in the ’70s.

Both were much more commercial in nature, but a bike path is no less worthy of support.

A map in Sunday’s Vindicator showed those parts of the path that are a reality, those that are in the planning stages and those that are only concepts today.

Many of the missing pieces will come together in a long-range transportation plan expected to be finalized in 2013.

Bicycle paths on dedicated rights-of-way and bicycle-friendly routes through communities will have dual purposes: healthful recreation for many and an alternative method of transportation for others.

In either case, making bicycles a larger part of our daily lives is not prohibitively expensive and — history shows — riding a bike beats riding a cyber cycle almost any day of the week.

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