Coliseum Blvd. is full of big box retailers, six lanes of traffic, countless access drives and some of INDOT’s most concerning intersections with high traffic accident counts. The thought of turning this primary corridor into a complete street with bike lanes may not be on the minds of many or any Fort Wayne city leaders because the amount of traffic that uses the road daily. The idea of a bike friendly Coliseum Blvd. seems over the top to many, but one community in neighboring Ohio has already created a plan and implementing it on its busiest roadway. Let’s take a quick trip and a lesson from Grove City Ohio on the outskirts of Columbus where you will find Stringtown Road as the primary roadway connecting hundreds of businesses and serving as a primary gateway to the community.
The roadway was in need of overall enhancements due to the nature of its gateway origin from Interstate 71 to the downtown core. Some may argue it’s not a Complete Street by definition, this sidepath (a sidewalk that is designed for bike travel over pedestrians) protects the bikeway from the road. The other issue is the design of Stringtown Road itself in that there are several commercial access points not necessarily reducing entrance and exit drives creating some minor potential conflict points with bicyclists. However, Grove City officials have began understanding the need to create complete streets no matter the neighborhood connecting areas in and around all parts of the city and while it’s not a perfect solution, it’s a step in the right direction.
As we look at Fort Wayne’s primary roadway connecting nearly 65% of the city’s population via roadway, the growing need to connect these neighborhoods by bike is escalating. City officials are working with Fort Wayne Trails to construct and develop several miles of bike and pedestrian walking paths including the much famed Pufferbelly which will run from downtown to Glenbrook in the coming years but it’s still several years off. What if we began talking about how to better connect our neighborhoods? What if our leaders began looking to other communities like Grove City for ideas on how to turn major thoroughfares like Coliseum, Coldwater, Lima and the list goes on into active pathways for both auto and bike travel. What’s next for us to create stronger neighborhoods linked together?