Bexley will hold public meetings this winter and spring to gather residents' thoughts on how to promote cycling and make streets safer for cyclists.

A group of about 20 people, including residents and city representatives, gathered Jan. 15 at Bexley City Hall to work on the Bexley Bike Plan. Residents offered feedback on what currently works well for cyclists and suggestions for improvements.

Mayor Ben Kessler said Bexley City Council members Richard Sharp and Troy Markham, who attended the meeting, initiated the plan. Its purpose, Kessler said, is to collect information and draft a set of recommendations for improving conditions for cycling.

"Our desire is to take what we've seen elsewhere in the region and see if there are ways that we can apply some best practices to Bexley, understanding that Bexley has unique challenges and unique assets," Kessler said.

Catherine Girves, executive director of Yay! Bikes, a Columbus-based organization that promotes bicycle safety, is overseeing the drafting of Bexley's bicycle plan.

Girves said the process would have three components: a steering committee made up of local residents that will meet four times through June, six community bicycle rides and two public workshops. The workshops will be held at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 24 and May 21 at Bexley City Hall, 2242 E. Main St.

"At the first public workshop, one of the things we really want to capture is where people feel safe riding, where people don't feel safe riding and why ... where people feel comfortable driving cars around people on bikes and where people don't feel comfortable," Girves said.

Residents' suggestions included creating bicycle lanes on streets throughout the city, posting more signs leading to bicycle trails, providing more designated parking for bicycles and offering stations with tools to help cyclists repair their bicycles.

Another resident suggested the city make a mobile application available for cyclists to report dangerous conditions so the city could compile data to determine where to make improvements. Kessler said the city's Bexley Base application could be used for that purpose.

Other city officials in attendance at the meeting included service director Andy Bashore and Bexley Police Department Sgt. Brent Otte.

Bashore said the service department would offer support to the steering committee as it drafts the bicycle plan

Otte, who is in charge of the department's eight-bicycle fleet, said one of the most effective ways to increase safety for cyclists is to use hand signals to indicate when they plan turn or change direction. He said officers are taught to use hand signals in their training for bicycle patrols.

"We preach that when we start doing our bike training ... make sure you're predictable," Otte said.

Throughout the drafting of the city's bicycle plan, small-group bicycle rides will take place the last week of March, with one final, large community bike ride scheduled from 2 to 3:30 p.m. May 31, Girves said.

The steering committee will submit the final draft of the plan with a list of recommendations to council in late June, she said.

For more information, visit the city's website, bexley.org.

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