Bike club blazes trail downtown

PARKERSBURG – Members of the Blennerhassett Bike Club were out Saturday to find the best routes through downtown Parkersburg for new bike paths.

Greg Garrett, vice president of the club, said the only way to do the job is to do it from a bike.

The riders started from Point Park and made their way through the city in search of the best routes.

“We’re going to ride some streets downtown and through the historic district to give people a look at what it looks like,” he said. “The mayor has charged the bike board with the job to come up with a route through the historic district,” he said, referring to the Julia-Ann Square Historic District.

Garrett said they are looking for the safest and most efficient way through the city.

“Usually the best way to get that figured out is just get on a bike and go look at it,” he said. “It looks different on a bike than it does in a car.”

Garrett said there are some problems since there may be one or two ways to get from one point to another.

“If you’re at Point Park and you want to get up to 13th Street, you only have a couple of choices,” he said. “You have Juliana Street, which is one of the busiest streets in town, or you’ve got Avery Street, where about 20 percent of the traffic goes.”

Garrett said the plan will most likely use the least traveled streets, along with existing paths like Juliana Street and in the area around the Wood County Justice Center at Second and Avery streets.

“The new trail on Juliana Street will be utilized and then come back down Ann Street,” he said.

Garrett said brick streets are not unsafe for bikes under most conditions.

“At the rates casual cyclists will be doing a neighborhood tour, the bricks are not a problem,” he said. “What’s more daunting about bricks is when it’s recently rained or if they’re damp, then they are slick.”

Garrett said efforts to make bike trails in downtown Parkersburg have been in the works for four years. He said the North Bend Rail Trail from Clarksburg to Happy Valley needs to be extended to downtown along the Little Kanawha River to connect all the trails.

“We have worked on that to the point where we have some of it done on Depot Street,” he said. “We have the bike path divided from the roadway and the path goes to East Street and there’s a new route underneath the bridge up the other side that’s complete with railing.”

Garrett said the path will eventually go out to the trail head as a spur off the North Bend Trail.

“That whole thing will end up as part of the coast-to-coast National Discovery Trail,” he said. “That’s why it’s important to get it done downtown since we are on a national trail already and we’ve laid out signs for a cross-town trail from behind Emerson School, across the East Street Bridge to Homecrest on the south side.”

Garrett said signs are going up on parts of the trail along Staunton Avenue and City Park.