By Elise Franco
Motorists speeding across the Mill Creek MetroParks’ bike path won’t go unnoticed by Township Trustee David Ditzler, whose friend was killed while riding a bicycle.
Ditzler, who lives on New Road in Austintown, said the bike path intersects with his street and for years he’s worried that those on the path aren’t safe from motorists who speed across it.
“The thing I fear is you always see ... young children with their parents riding the path,” he said. “I’ve seen cars come across the bike path, and you can see them going airborne across that path’s bump.”
His awareness of the issue increased about three years ago after a friend was hit on a bike by a car driving about 50 mph, Ditzler said. He died several weeks later of related complications.
The man was an avid bicyclist and was hit while “riding on a path in rural Trumbull County, Ditzler said. “It makes me take notice even more when I see cars coming across the bike path because I know someone who was killed on a bike like that.”
MetroParks Police Chief Jim Willock said now that summer is in full swing, the park’s bike paths are filled with people and can be hazardous if bikers and motorists alike aren’t careful.
Willock said it’s imperative that everyone be safe and aware of their surroundings, especially in areas where the path crosses a street.
“When you’re riding a bike you have to stop and look both ways before you cross,” he said. “It’s a matter of being safe about it because you have a couple of main roads that can be kind of busy.”
Willock said the path, which runs through Austintown and Canfield, crosses over residential streets and several major thoroughfares including U.S. Route 224, state Route 446, Lisbon Street, Silica, County Line, Fairview, New, Kirk, Herbert and Leffingwell roads.
Willock said that MetroParks police patrol the path, and police in Austintown, Canfield and the sheriff’s department are responsible for motorists on streets within the city and township limits.
The MetroParks took precautions when building the bike path, such as building a bridge so that bike riders could safely cross Mahoning Avenue in Austintown, he said.
“There are also a couple places in Canfield where motorists have to yield to people on the trail,” Willock said. “As long as people are careful as they’re crossing, they’ll be safe.”