Clintonville Greenways Idea Moving Forward
A proposal to build a network of bicycle and pedestrian-friendly streets in Clintonville has received an initial round of funding from the City of Columbus. Although details have yet to be worked out, the streets that will be targeted have been agreed upon and the overall concept has been endorsed by both the city and the Clintonville Area Commission.
That concept is all about drawing in new bikers and walkers, according to Clintonville resident Will Koehler, who has set up a group called Clintonville Neighborhood Greenways to advocate for and promote the idea.
“This network is not for the five percent of people that are already biking,” said Koehler. “It’s for families, seniors, anyone who wants more options for safely getting around their neighborhood.”
Portland, Oregon has developed perhaps the most well-known and effective neighborhood greenway system in the country; a 70-mile network that runs along residential streets (where traffic counts and speeds are already relatively low). Car traffic is not prohibited, but it is limited through signage and infrastructure, while every effort is made to prioritize bicycle and pedestrian use.
It was a family trip to Portland that got Koehler thinking about trying the idea in Columbus.
“We went for ten days with our four-year-old, and didn’t use a car the whole time…there was nothing we couldn’t do on our bikes,” he said. “I learned a lot about their bike infrastructure, which is not actually that impressive on the surface…but it’s a complete network; there are no broken pieces, and all of the tricky intersections are solved.”
That means, for instance, that a family can bike for miles on a low-traffic street without having to stop at a stop sign (they are all turned in favor of the greenway), and that even novice cyclists can cross busy intersections easily, thanks to simple fixes like signals and medians with cut-throughs just for walkers and bikers (Columbus actually has a good example of this on West Third Avenue, where it meets the Olentangy Trail just east of the Olentangy River).
Koehler said the idea for the Clintonville project is to keep the first phase very simple – signs and street markings would let people know which streets were part of the network, and key intersections would be improved, but much of the work of his group would focus on promoting and marketing the greenway to raise awareness of it. More significant infrastructure changes would come in future phases.
The route for phase one includes Weisheimer Road, Olentangy Boulevard, Milton Avenue, Piedmont Road and Calumet Street. It connects a wide range of destinations, including ten different schools, many shops and restaurants, and the Whetstone Library/Park of Roses complex.
The Clintonville Neighborhood Greenways group will be working with the area commission and city engineers to come up with a final plan. There is no start date for the project, but Koehler said he thinks that a two-year timeline is realistic.
He added that the intention of his group is to build support for the idea from within the neighborhood, and that in other cities these types of improvements have not been controversial; “it’s not about bikes versus cars, it’s about making a better community for everyone.”
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