Sunday, September 19, 2010
I find the 11-mile Mill Creek Metroparks Bikeway to offer a convenient ride on trail that is flat, well-maintained and nicely shaded. The tunnel under Interstate 80 and the bridge over Mahoning Avenue are very impressive.
But I consider the Bikeway (which opened 10 years ago) to be a very flawed trail, as from the Metroparks parking lot north to the trail’s terminus at the Trumbull County line there are no less than 13 road crossings with stop signs for bikers. If you ride to the county line and back, you thus face 26 stop signs.
I wonder if the Metroparks and Eastgate planners considered this situation when they approved building (with federal and state help) this costly trail along where the Erie-Lackawana trains once rumbled.
Some of these crossing roads offer no problem, as the intersections are at right angles with good visibility. Others, however, are at sharp angles which make quick looks both ways difficult, and two intersect at the crest of hills on the crossing road. A couple of crossings are at heavily trafficked roads, including Route 224 and Kirk Road.
If I, as a single adult rider, find some of these crossings annoying or even “hairy,” how are they viewed by parents with children? I thought bike trails were supposed to provide for safe family outings.
One also wonders if the Metroparks Bikeway will not be distained by serious bikers who enjoy long, unimpeded sweeps of trail for fast travel when it becomes part of the Great Ohio Lake-to-River Greenway, much of which has already been constructed.
With the exception of the completed sections of the Greenway, over the years I have ridden virtually all the bike trails in eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania.
Many are beautiful, enjoyable rides, such at the ones through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, around Lake Wilhelm in Goddard State Park, along Oil Creek south of Titusville and along Little Toby Creek south of Ridgway, Pa.
Other trails in the area can be more problematic. The trail around Presque Isle in Erie can be rather crowded on holidays and weekends with other users vying with bicyclists, and the ride at Moraine State Park is hilly and can get a little crowded. There is virtually no shade along the Stavich Trail at Lowellville.
But none of these trails offer the very serious and seemingly unsolvable problem of so many crossing roads with stop signs at does the Metroparks Bikeway.
There may be those who are used to the road crossings the Metroparks Bikeway and live with it due to the trail’s convenient location and its other fine qualities.
But if I want to ride a bike trail, I think I’ll head over to Lowellville, into Western Pennsylvania or check out the completed sections of the Lake-to-River trail.
Robert R. Stanger, Boardman