The city is taking steps to attract more bicyclists and draw them to downtown businesses by making it easier and safer for them to travel in the Detroit Street area.
Xenia will conduct a $25,953 safety study that will be mostly covered by a $20,973 grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation. The city will cover the remaining balance.
Xenia is the hub of the Miami Valley bike trail system, which is the nation’s largest network of paved trails, said Bob Steinbach, the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission’s sustainable solutions and transportation alternatives director. One of the longest and more popular trails, the Little Miami Scenic trail, runs through the heart of the city.
“Xenia especially has a real opportunity for economic development based on trail tourism because they are so central to this big system of trails,” Steinbach said. “One of the things they want people to be able to do is comfortably bike right through the heart of Xenia.”
The study will evaluate vehicular safety on West Main Street and vehicular, pedestrian and bike mobility on Detroit Street between Home Avenue and Church Street.
The study will also include suggestions related to improvements to make the area more accessible for bicyclists.
Xenia City Planner Brian Forschner said the city will present the findings to the public for discussion. No date has been set at this time.
In addition to hiring an engineer, the city also enlisted the help of the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission’s bike/walk audit program. During a four-hour meeting on Tuesday, city officials, business owners and other members of the community walked for 90 minutes around the city to assess sidewalks, roadways and traffic, then discussed their observations.
“It was primarily an educational event and kind of awareness building event,” Forschner said. “People who participated learned a lot about bike and pedestrian safety and how you can design a roadway to accommodate the needs of pedestrians, bikes as well as cars.”
Christ Hutson, who co-owns Harvest Moon Bakery on East Main Street, said he has had a number of customers who are cyclists. Some have traveled from Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, Michigan and Niagara Falls. His customers have mentioned the city could benefit from adding bike racks and kiosks and widening the trail.
While Hutson supports the city’s efforts to bring more cyclists to the area, he said he had some reservations about increasing the number of bicyclists on the roadway in the downtown area given the heavy vehicle traffic.
“I think they could definitely benefit from improving the trail that runs through downtown Xenia and making it more accessible for cyclists,” he said. “That way, they would not have to travel on the road.”
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