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Pedal pushers make way for bikes

For The Miami Student

Published: Friday, November 22, 2013

Updated: Friday, November 22, 2013 01:11

The City of Oxford and Miami University have been working together to create a bike and pedestrian plan that will benefit both students and the community members. Among the proposed changes is a bike route that may eliminate some parking along McGuffey Avenue.

“We need to start looking at how to connect locations [for bicyclists and pedestrians] from one spot to another in a safe and convenient way,” Oxford Community Developer Jung-Han-Chen said.

According to Oxford Mayor Richard Keebler, the bike path would also increase pedestrian safety.

“We had issues with some serious pedestrian accidents,” Keebler said. “So the question has become what the city and university can do to make bicycle and pedestrian traffic safer.”

According to David Prytherch, chair of the Oxford Planning Commission, a broad outline of how the bike and pedestrian system might look will be delivered to the Community Council in February. Meanwhile, Prytherch said he aims to enact some short-term policies.

“People have been talking about bicycle lanes for a very long time,” Prytherch said. “But, in the 21st century, it is a big priority for Miami and Oxford. It’s time to address it for the sake of public safety.”

In the short-term, Prytherch said he expects better signage, more crosswalks and bike racks, handicap-accessible ramps and bike paths.

“My guess is, by next spring or summer, you will see some aspects of the shorter term efforts,” Keebler said.

According to him, it is important to justify and negotiate the loss of parking to accommodate projected bike lanes.

Keebler said he is worried this may stir up controversy in the community, which is already pressed to find available parking.

“Balancing auto traffic, pedestrian traffic and biking traffic is not an easy thing to do,” Keebler said. “You’re talking about eliminating parking. Most people would tell you that our biggest issue in town is parking.”

Prytherch acknowledged that making space for bicycles will not be an easy task.

“Removing some parking space might be a necessary trade-off to improve pedestrian safety as a whole,” Prytherch said.

Some students who use their bike as a primary source of transportation welcome the idea of expanded bike lanes. Miami first-year Joe Vattimo said he frequently uses his bike to get around campus.

“The sidewalk is too crowded so I usually just ride in the street,” Vattimo said. “I would absolutely use a bike lane…it would definitely be a lot safer.”

Doug Hamilton, owner of BikeWise Oxford, said bike lanes would be very beneficial.

Hamilton said that if one is using a car to get around campus, he or she is “doing it wrong.”

“I think that the addition of bike paths around campus and toward the high school would benefit everyone in the community,” Hamilton said. “A nice bike path would be hugely beneficial in attracting potential Oxford residents.”

Until these effects of the bike and pedestrian plan are put in action, students are encouraged to ride on the streets or sidewalk as long as they cooperate with the flow of auto and pedestrian traffic.

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