GREEN: The 6-foot berm along East Caston Road is nice and smooth.
The 3-foot berm along Christman Road is a bit narrow, cracked and gravelly.
Boettler and Steese roads have no shoulder at all.
If you’re a motorist, it’s not the kind of thing you’d probably notice. But if you’re trying to get around Green on two wheels, such details are critical for planning a route to work, trying to get to the store, or taking the family out for some weekend recreation.
Some 40 area residents took to the road on their bikes Saturday to give city officials and the Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study (AMATS) some firsthand feedback on how to make Green more friendly for cyclists.
The event was AMATS’ fourth Bike-N-Brainstorm, part of the regional development group’s effort to identify and improve on-road enhancements like bicycle lanes and signage.
Last year, two similar bike tours were held in Akron. And in April, 65 hardy riders braved a snowy day to share their thoughts on Kent.
“It’s a great way to combine cyclists in the community with the officials who make the decisions” about infrastructure, said Krista Beniston, AMATS planning coordinator.
Of course, when biking is purely recreational, cyclists can head to places like the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail. But even then, many would prefer to be able to safely bike to the trail rather than haul their wheels out on the back of their cars.
Green resident Kathy Schmidt, a mother of five, said the new paving job on Caston Road, along with the addition of a bike lane, is a huge improvement to the route that her family takes while biking to the nearest Towpath trailhead in New Franklin.
But as much as she wishes she and her kids had the option to ride their bikes to popular retail destinations in Green, she won’t do it, or allow her teenagers to make the journey.
“We’d love to go east to the shops and stuff, but it’s too dangerous,” she said.
Schmidt and her daughter, 19-year-old Sarah, said they were glad Green officials were interested in hearing their thoughts. They joined most of the riders on an eight-mile trip down Christman, Caston, Arlington, Boettler, Steese, Greensburg and Bulldog Alley.
A few participants with young children opted for a 2.8-mile jaunt down Christman, on the east side of Nimisila Lake.
Dustin and Leanne Miller took the shorter route, carting their 3-year-old twins, Alex and Braden, in a trailer behind them.
Dustin Miller said they feel OK riding around their neighborhood, but not leaving the development.
“I wish there were paths so we could run to stores and such,” he said.
Another deterrent from using bikes for typical errands is the lack of bike racks, according to several cyclists.
AMATS Executive Director Jason Segedy said bike racks are a “chicken and egg” issue. Businesses want to see customers on bikes to warrant the investment in money and space, but customers need the racks before they would choose that form of transportation.
Other advice from the cyclists who completed the route: Apply paint to speed bumps so riders aren’t surprised by them and add images of bikes to berms so drivers are reminded not to swerve out of their lanes.
Others suggested working on road improvements between city parks so cyclists can ride between them, and look for an opportunity to add bike racks and water fountains in areas that could become destinations for riders.
Collecting the information for the city were councilmen Skip Summerville and Gerard Neugebauer, planning director Wayne Wiethe, and planner Chrissy Lingenfelter.
Summerville, from Ward 4, was instrumental in bringing the AMATS program to town and said it’s his “hidden agenda” to connect his ward to the Towpath in neighboring New Franklin.
To do that, more roads on the western side of Green would need to be made more “comfortable” for cyclists.
“I’m going to be a voice for that over the next couple of years,” he said.
AMATS said it hopes to host another Bike-N-Brainstorm in Summit or Portage county this fall.