New Albany News

Committee has cyclists' safety at top of its list

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Members of a new steering committee are studying how New Albany can best support the increasing number of cyclists in the area.

Adrienne Joly, the city's deputy community-development director, said the committee was formed after city officials updated the strategic plan this year. The committee was one of the recommendations in the plan, she said.

The committee will in turn report its findings to New Albany City Council.

Councilman Sloan Spalding, an avid cyclist, is one of the 16 committee members.

He said he has lived in New Albany since 2006 and has watched the number of local cyclists increase.

"There are a lot of riders in our neck of woods," Spalding said.

Spalding said three cycling groups currently hold organized rides in the city.

One supports female cyclists, the second consists of Columbus residents and has been in existence for 10 years and the third is a newer club that rides on Thursdays and has more than 200 members, he said.

Spalding said the cycling community has expanded because of Pelotonia, a cycling tour that raises money for cancer-treatment research. It was founded by New Albany resident Tom Lennox.

It also has become more popular because of the riding groups, which provide a support structure that "educates people how to ride (and) where and when to ride in an encouraging environment," he said.

Joly said other members of the committee are active cyclists interested in creating safe ways to ride in the city, whether they are training for an event or riding with family members for recreation.

She said promoting safe riding could include adding marked cycling lanes on roads and connections that allow cyclists to move easily from one route or leisure trail to another.

"We're looking at ideas of how to incorporate active and recreational, family cyclists into one plan," Spalding said. "The leisure trails are predominately used by families and for recreational uses.

"What we're lacking right now is dedicated infrastructure for serious cyclists on the road. We don't have one sign that says, 'Share the road.' We need visual cues regarding cyclists on the road."

The committee also is considering "support functions and amenities" that cyclists need, including restrooms, bicycle racks, water stations and air stations to fill tires, Joly said.

Spalding said committee members want "to really examine what it is about cycling that we want to support and what the best way is to put together infrastructure and educational opportunities to make sure our community embraces cycling."

Joly and Spalding both said education is an important component to ensure riding safety.

Spalding said many organized and individual rides proceed east out of New Albany onto rural routes and city officials need to identify the routes and mark them.

Because most cyclists ride into neighboring jurisdictions, Spalding said, he would like New Albany to work with its neighbors to link cycling routes.

Another part of the city's goal is to support local businesses while attracting more businesses that cater to cyclists, Joly said.

"We also want to capitalize on economic activity generated through cycling to serve businesses in the village center," she said.

To facilitate discussion, city officials created a website, bikenewalbany.mindmixer.com, to survey residents.

Joly said the website had 274 visitors and 1,700 page views by the middle of August.

In addition, committee members took an organized ride in August to see for themselves what could be improved.

Joly said committee members plan to hold a public workshop later this month to share ideas and draft recommendations on promoting safe cycling.

The goal is to present those recommendations this fall to New Albany City Council.

Joly said the committee also is seeking funding sources that would help the city pay for improvements.

Spalding said the city would be unable to fund every project identified but having a plan in place would enable city officials to prioritize projects as funding is available.

In addition to Spalding, the committee members are: Bill Barrett, Todd Brubaker, JoAnn Cummings, Brad Fischer, Geoff Clark, Chris Ginder, Don Ginder, Lisa Hinson, Peter Horvath, Kasey Kist, Larry Lewellen, Ben Martin, Craig Mohre, Jon Morgan and Dave Wharton.

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