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Columbus continues to grow as popular bicycling city

ALLISON SLONAKER
Special to the Legal News

Published: January 11, 2016

As the bicycling industry in Columbus thrives, the city continues to work on making the roads a safer place to ride.

Stuart Hunter, founder and CEO of Roll:, says he’s seen the number of bicyclists increase in the area and believes the market is only going to continue to grow.

“We have seen a great growth in the number of bikers in the 10 years we have been in business,” Hunter said.

He said people are embracing bicycling as more than just a sport.

“I think it’s a thriving market in Columbus. People have embraced bikes as both sport for health and wellness, but also as a means for recreation and transportation,” Hunter said.

Hunter said his customers aren’t just the committed cycling enthusiast anymore, but they include a wide spectrum of people.

He has also noticed riders who are getting back into the sport for the first time since they were young.

Along with the health benefits associated with cycling, people also enjoy the sociability aspects of riding, Hunter said.

Hunter credits a few different factors for the increase in interest to the cycling industry.

“The trifecta of national lifestyle and wellness trends, combined with a great commitment to cycling at a local level spearheaded by the mayor and the growth of an event like Pelotonia (are) raising the profile of cycling in Columbus and the surrounding communities,” Hunter said. “Events like Pelotonia have given many the opportunity to rally behind a cause and focus their personal and philanthropic motivations through riding.”

Pelotonia is a three-day experience that includes cycling to raise money for cancer research.

Hunter said that under the leadership of outgoing Mayor Michael Coleman, the city of Columbus has maintained a steadfast commitment to help provide for the local cyclist.

“We have seen growth across the landscape, but with added cycling routes and protected bike lanes, including the Alum Creek trail system downtown. The near north and eastern neighborhoods have all really benefited from added infrastructure investments,” Hunter said. “(It’s) a part of a larger plan in building and developing a thriving culture of business success and opportunity, by providing the features and facilities in Columbus that are sought out by many companies looking to recruit and retain top talent to the area.”

Coleman started the safety campaign Share The Road to encourage more people to ride to work, school and for fun, but also as a reminder that the roads are for both cars and bikes, according to the city of Columbus website.

There are many roads in town that contain a specific lane for the cyclist and the city recently started a larger project to add protected lanes for bikers.

On Summit Street between Hudson Street and 11th Avenue the city has added the protected bike lanes, which separates the bikers from the moving cars and pedestrians.

There are two five-foot wide bike lanes, allowing bikers to travel both north and south, alongside a parking lane that sits between the bikers and the moving cars.

Other features added to the street include turn boxes, which provide a place just for the bikers to wait when crossing Summit to make turns, and bus bulbs, concrete islands that separate buses from bikes and provide a safe waiting space.

Those protected lanes are a part of a larger project that will include resurfacing Third Street and Forth Street from Fulton Street to I-670, Summit Street and Forth Street from I-670 to Hudson and Hudson from Forth Street to Indianola, according to the city website.

The website, under the Public Service tab, provides bikers and drivers with more information on how to use the lanes and keep the roads safe.

Columbus has been named a “bicycle friendly community” and awarded with a bronze level status ranking by The League of American Bicyclist.

With the election of Andrew Ginther as the new mayor, Hunter has hopes he will have the same commitment to help as mayor Coleman.

“We hope to see this commitment maintained and even expanded upon by Mayor Ginther, as Columbus becomes a livable, connected, bikeable community in the decade ahead. More protected bike lanes, east-west safe connector routes, and an expanded recreational trail network all support (bicyclying),” Hunter said.

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