Residents are a driving force behind Grove City's effort to develop more bicycle trails, and local leaders say they are pleased to build on that momentum.

Residents are a driving force behind Grove City's effort to develop more bicycle trails, and local leaders say they are pleased to build on that momentum.

"Whenever we go out to the public and survey them about what they want, their No. 1 priority for the parks department and the city inevitably is that they want to see more connectivity and opportunities for active transportation in Grove City," said Kim Conrad, director of parks and recreation for Grove City. "We share that vision for more and more connectivity."

In the short term, city officials are looking to allow bicyclists to travel from Windsor Park down to Fryer Park, but the long-term focus will be on finding ways to connect residents on the west side of town to the Grove City Town Center and link the city to the new Scioto Grove Metro Park, Conrad said.

"It's all about figuring out the best way to get residents from point A to point B via a bicycle," she said.

An increasing number of people all over the region want to get from one place to another pedaling rather than driving, said Amanda McEldowney, project manager for Central Ohio Greenways.

"It's not just for the recreational and health benefits," she said. "You're seeing more people choosing to ride to work on a bicycle."

A 2015 trails impact study conducted by Central Ohio Greenways showed that people travel nearly 12 million miles annually on 10 trails in central Ohio, McEldowney said.

The Greenways organization works with communities like Grove City to help them develop biking opportunities for residents, she said.

As Grove City's "living room," the Town Center is an obvious nexus for future bike-trail development, Conrad said.

"Getting west-side residents to the Town Center and to where Beulah Park will be redeveloped is pretty key for us," she said.

The city currently has about 25 miles of designated bike routes.

"We add on to them on a regular basis," Conrad said.

Most recently, the city expanded the trail that runs through Gantz Park.

Cyclists now can take Gantz Road to Southwest Boulevard and head to McDowell Road, which is designated as a bike route, Conrad said.

The bike path heads down McDowell to White Road and now extends from White under Interstate 71 and all the way to the Buckeye Parkway Trail.

"The significance of that is the challenge of getting a bike route that gets around I-71," Conrad said. "I-71 in essence divides the city in half and can make it hard to get people safely from one end of the city to the other."

The Buckeye Parkway Trail is another major route in Grove City, running from Stringtown Road to London-Groveport Road and to Indian Trails Park. Bicyclists have access to major shopping centers and can explore offshoots to Henceroth Park, Holton Road and to a bike trail running around the new Mount Carmel Health System site.

Over the next five to 10 years, the city would like to develop a trail that could extend from Meadow Grove Park eastward to the new Scioto Grove Metro Park, Conrad said.

"This would be a project done in multiple phases, probably over five to 10 years," she said.

Metro Parks encourages and works with communities to plan bicycle connections to its parks, and that is no different with Scioto Grove, said Steve Studenmund, planning manager for Metro Parks.

"In Scioto Grove and all our parks, we have bike trails set up within the park, and we want to help find ways to allow people to ride their bikes to and through Scioto Grove," he said.

"It just doesn't make much sense to force people to drive their car to the park in order to ride their bike in the park," Studenmund said.

Planning a bike trail is a complex process, he said.

"You have to look at the availability of property and whether the municipality owns a property," Studenmund said. "If it's private property, you have to consider whether the property owner is amenable to having a bike trail going through their land."

Officials also must consider the question of the most suitable route for a 10- or 12-foot-wide multiuse trail, he said.

Grove City's project plans also would be expensive, with the first phase alone likely costing $1 million, Conrad said.

The city has applied for a grant from the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission that would help pay the cost of a potential first phase, she said. MORPC is expected to announce grant recipients in September or October.

Other future bike-trail goals for Grove City include creating a trail to connect with the Camp Chase Trail, which is part of the Ohio to Erie Trail, Conrad said.

A portion of the trail runs from Sullivant Avenue to Big Run Park off Demorest Road. It also runs through Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

"We're so close to the trail, we're trying to figure out a way we can hook into it," Conrad said.