Cyclists commuting along portions of Summit Street might feel a bit safer as of Thursday, with the opening of the capital city’s first protected bike lanes.
The two lanes are located along the west side of Summit Street between East Hudson Street and East 11th Avenue.
Each of the two lanes are five feet wide and are separated from the two remaining southbound traffic lanes by a two-foot buffer zone and a series of posts, as well as a new parking lane.
The lanes allow for northbound and southbound cyclist traffic.
During the opening, City Council member Shannon Hardin emphasized the importance of providing choices when it comes to transportation in the city.
“This gives our residents a menu of options of how they get around,” he said.
Hardin added that the protected bike lanes are “investing in our residents’ health, but also in the infrastructure of our economy.”
“The more ways folks can get around, the more our city will grow,” he said.
Mark Caral, a Clintonville resident who rode his bike to the opening ceremony, said he thinks the addition of the lanes will be good for urban cyclists.
“I think it’s going to hopefully bring out a lot of people who haven’t felt safe riding on these streets,” he said.
Rick Tilton, assistant director of Columbus’ Public Services, said the addition to Summit Avenue recognizes a change in culture.
“It recognizes Mayor Coleman’s vision for Columbus that is not solely dependent on the individual automobile,” he said.
Dr. Teresa Long, health commissioner for the City of Columbus, said the protected bike paths reflect the community’s desire for city neighborhoods to be “active and vibrant.”
“This is good for our vibrancy, it’s good for our community engagement, and it’s also good for our health,” she said.
Sisters Daria and Melina Glock, both business majors at Ohio State, said the new lanes are particularly important to them, as they both cycle daily in the campus area.
The city expects smaller snow plows to fit within the ten-foot-wide protected lane space to clear snow during the coming winter months, according to a city of Columbus release.
Columbus also expects in 2016 the completion of bike traffic signals to notify cyclists when to yield at each intersection along the bike lane stretch of Summit Avenue.