can bicycles save a city? a neighborhood?

I regret to say that I won’t miss this place one bit when we move, but I will say one nice thing about Dayton, Ohio. Despite the downtown area being anything but bike friendly, the city has a unique and wonderful bike history, and it is located at the heart of an absolutely magnificent bike path network. I am definitely going to miss that.

So, with that it mind, I was thrilled to learn a couple of days ago that we’re in the mix of cities being considered to play host to the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame. The Chicago Tribune, WHIO TV, and the Dayton Daily News, all report that Dayton is one of eleven communities with a proposal that cleared the first round of review.

With competition from cities like Davis, CA, “long known as a cycling mecca, [and] one of only three cities in country to have earned the League of American Bicyclists’ top ranking for bicycle friendly communities,” and Madison, WI, which “has the second-highest ranking by the league.” We have our work cut out. It’s no surprise to read that “no Ohio city currently has a bicycle friendly designation.” Nevertheless, regardless of the outcome, it is both exciting and encouraging even to see a proposal like this being put forward.

Gem City Ice Cream Building

Gem City Ice Cream Building

Even though I’m leaving the area and will likely be gone long before the Hall of Fame would arrive, I would be so stoked to see it come to Dayton. Not only does it fit so perfectly with the history of this region (i.e., the Wright Brothers Cycle Shop and all), but it would be such a boon for West Third St. and the Wright-Dunbar neighborhood, which are in desperate need of continued improvement and revitalization. The Gem City Ice Cream building they recommend using in the proposal is “one of only two original Wright Brothers locations left in Dayton.”

Xenia Station

Xenia Station

As the Dayton Daily News article points out, citing Ohio Bicycle Federation Chairman, Chuck Smith (the organization backing the proposal), “the location is ideal because it’s a block away from the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center and only three blocks from the Great Miami [River] Recreational Trail.” That trail is 37-miles long and is part of the Miami Valley Rails Trails bike path network I mentioned above. Altogether, there are over 322 miles of paved trail, of which 238 miles are connected. Not only would something like this be a wicked cool destination for individuals and groups riding the bike path, but it might one day function as a west side hub, not unlike Xenia Station some twenty-plus miles east of here, where a number of trails intersect, and which offers bathrooms, water, lots of shady places to sit, and plenty of parking for both bicycles and automobiles.

Yeah, we definitely need this in Dayton.

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