Bicycling improvements coming to BG

Bicyclist uses a bike lane.

The Mannik & Smith Group presented the Bowling Green City Council with an updated bicycle map on Sept. 19 that shows a master plan of how best to improve the bicycling experience in the city. 

The last time the bicycle facilities map was updated was in 2007, so the Mannik & Smith Group worked with the Bicycle Safety Commission and had input from a city survey to create an updated map. 

Chair of the Transportation & Safety Committee William Herald said the council is trying its best to make the bicycling experience in Bowling Green easier and safer.

“They’re (Mannik & Smith Group) trying to figure out what we can do where,” Herald said. “It’s not a one size fits all. It takes a number of different solutions.

Survey results showed that the top three ways residents want bicycling improved are by physically separating bike lanes, creating more shared-use paths and having on-street painted bike lanes. Some streets, however, do not allow for these solutions because of its layout.

Herald said these problems could be solved more easily if there were sidewalks in every development, wider streets and sidewalks or if there were no combined sewers. The city’s layout makes improving bicycling difficult.

“We are trying to retrofit our city to handle bicycles and that’s tough,” Herald said. “It’s kind of like retrofitting an airplane to function as a boat. It’s complicated because of what we’re dealing with, costs and some people don’t want certain solutions. You have to balance all of that out.”

Now that the map has been updated, it is up to the council to prioritize what areas they want to fix and how they want to go about fixing them. They have not yet met to discuss these priorities.

“We have a well thought out plan, and we’re going to try and methodically prioritize and work on it, being mindful of the tradeoffs,” Herald said. “The goal is to smartly move the ball forward.”

This is an ongoing challenge that will continue to be revisited.  

“Another issue is overtime, what’s deemed best for bicycles changes,” Herald said. 

Despite the challenges that tackling this issue brings, the city council is committed to improving the bicycle experience.

“It’s important for safety and quality of life,” Herald said. “We’ve done studies and we want to gear the community to be more appealing to younger people. Having a bicycle friendly city is important in achieving that.”

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