Get Out And Bike.
By Valerie Beerbower
From the historical significance of the Wright Brothers to the upcoming downtown hub, cycling has always played a prominent role in the Miami Valley. Most residents who live near or frequently use the region’s extensive bikeway system can tell you where the trails are and perhaps even where they connect, but when it comes to complete awareness of all cycling amenities the region has to offer, most Miami Valley residents simply “coast.”
For the last 25 years, the region has invested much to create one of the most extensive bikeways in the country. Many organizations, communities and clubs are working hard to connect this “bicycle highway” to local and regional destinations. Southwest Ohio has more than 325 miles of paved trail; 238 of those miles are connected trail, according to the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission (MVRPC), another organization that helped develop the vast greenway. The connected trails link Dayton with Xenia, Springfield, London, Franklin, Urbana, Lebanon and eastern Cincinnati, which helps stimulate the local economy, as most trails pass through downtown areas and historic districts rather than the retail and hospitality chains that sprawl along interstates and highways. Future trail developments are planned to connect Dayton with Troy, Piqua, Jamestown, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and Middletown. A recent trail user survey found that trail use is directly related to over $13 million of economic activity in the Miami Valley. That includes equipment purchases, food and beverage sales and overnight accommodations for those coming from out of town to experience the bikeways. Visit MetroParks.org/cycling for links to download maps of the bikeways.
The new Bike Hub at RiverScape MetroPark, which is not only unique to the state but just the third of its kind to emerge east of the Mississippi, will facilitate the growing number of people who want to ditch the drive and bike to work. The secure facility offers lockers, showers and bike storage for a low seasonal fee. For details about membership or to schedule a tour of the Bike Hub, contact the Outdoor Recreation Department at (937) 277-4374 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to a healthy and enjoyable alternative form of transportation, many individuals and families enjoy cycling for simple recreational purposes. Five Rivers MetroParks has developed easy-to-use cycling day trips to encourage residents to explore the region by bike. These “Hub Trex” consist of short, medium and long trips that begin and end at the Hub. Simply follow the map and directions listed on one side of the Hub Trex card, and on the other side, you’ll find activities to enjoy at each destination. Parking and restrooms are marked on each Hub Trex card. Pick one up from the Hub today.
Group rides are good ways to acclimate yourself to the region’s bikeways. Bike for the Health of It is a group ride led by MetroParks Volunteer Patrols that takes place every Saturday, rain or shine, in the spring, summer and fall months. Visit MetroParks.org/BikeHealth for a complete schedule. Courteous Mass is another organization dedicated to promoting safe riding through downtown. They meet for group rides at the PNC 2nd Street Market in conjunction with First Friday festivities. Learn more by visiting www.Facebook.com/CourteousMassDayton. Visit Metroparks.org/cycling to find more area cycling clubs and group rides as well as upcoming MetroParks cycling activities.
Don’t have your own bike? Borrow one this summer from Ride the River Rentals. Located in the new phase III area next to the Bike Hub, Ride the River Rentals offers coaster bikes, HydroBikes, pedal boats and roller blades, as well as bike attachments for youngsters. Ride the River Rentals is open weekends and holidays, Memorial Day through Labor Day. Click on the “amenities” tab at MetroParks.org/RiverScape to learn more.
For whatever the reason you bike, be sure to capitalize on the vast network of bikeways stretched across the region and the top-notch facilities at your fingertips. They are great ways to “get out and live.”
Valerie Beerbower can be reached at email@example.com