Cycling in Downtown Dayton (Photograph by bsom, Flickr)
Dayton might not be the first city that comes to mind as a cycling haven in Ohio. Surely Cleveland, Columbus or Cincinnati has more to offer than a city with less than 150,000 residents, right?
Turns out the Gem City is arguably king of Ohio cycling with the Miami Valley claiming 330 miles of trail to explore and a bronze ranking from the League of American Bicyclists in 2010. Not to mention the area is served by the competitive Team Dayton Cycling and the Dayton Cycling Club on the advocacy front. And nobody involved in Dayton cycling plans to slow down anytime soon as the aerospace hub continues its march toward building a community cycling commuters and athletes can be proud of.
Matthew Lindsay, Manager of Environmental Planning for the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission (MVRPC), describes himself as a fair weather bike commuter to his downtown office. His first assignment put him in charge of the Comprehensive Local-Regional Bikeways plans. Lindsay says this offered the opportunity to engage with long-time and new cycling advocates across the Dayton region.
“Soon after the plan was done, I brought a group of interested people together and we founded Courteous Mass Dayton,” Lindsay explains, describing the event as a cousin of the national Critical Mass movement where cyclists take the streets in a monthly ride to remind motorists of their presence. Today, Courteous Mass has expanded since its 2009 inception with additional rides, meet ups and even a social media presence. “I’m very proud that it has continued and is growing.”
Growing, indeed. But not just the Courteous Mass rides. New trails continue to be constructed as an integral piece of the Miami Valley Bike Trails system.
“The Regional Bikeways Plan envisions our network of trails as the interstates for bikes, connecting between communities and across county lines,” Lindsay describes. “The vision here is that these trails will lead to vibrant communities with bike-safe streets so that a cyclist can exit the trail and continue through town safely to the final destination.”
It’s all part of the MVRPC’s complete streets policy, a transportation design that requires streets to be compatible for all ages regardless of their choice of transportation. “Each new piece of trail, each new connected complete street makes the whole system more valuable.”
Chuck Smith, Chair of the Ohio Bicycle Federation and Vice President of the Dayton Cycling Club, agrees with Lindsay’s sentiment. A “serious cyclist” since riding his bike to school in the 5th grade, Smith calls the Dayton River Corridor Bikeway System the city’s greatest success story. “This system follows the Great Miami, Mad and Stillwater rivers and has grown to become more than just recreational trails,” he explains, noting how he has personally benefited from the system. “I rode the Great Miami Trail every day on my bike ride home from work at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to my home in Vandalia over a 22-year period and 52,000 cycling miles.” That’s not even counting the miles he puts on as a member of Team Dayton.
To read the rest of the story please go to Ohio-Active.
OhioActive’s mission is to increase awareness of Ohio’s recreational opportunities while providing in-depth fitness knowledge to individuals seeking to live an active lifestyle. Our goal is to tell engaging stories of local everyday athletes in order to demonstrate that we all have the power to get fit, healthy and active. We sometimes just need a little help and encouragement!.