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home : opinion : letters to the editor May 30, 2016

7/10/2013 11:17:00 AM
Trailhead Needed

Editor, Times-Union:
The facility being built on McKinley Street in Warsaw is nothing more than a picnic shelter.  And there are no sidewalks on McKinley Street, nor is the facility on a trail.
This is disappointing to people like myself, who ride a bicycle through Warsaw and Winona Lake frequently.  The Chinworth bridge area is also deemed a trailhead, but affords no modern restrooms.
A trailhead, as seen on most trails, has enclosed, ADA compliant restrooms, water fountains, bike racks, lighting, sidewalks and parking for cars.  This enables trail users, including mothers with small children, to utilize trails more readily.
The group I founded, Friends of Eel River Trail, built a trailhead in Columbia City with heated, year-round restrooms with metal, prison-style lavatory facilities that are considered indestructible. We modeled it after the trailheads on the Monon Trail in Indianapolis.
We, in turn, gave our plans for the Columbia City Trailhead (on the Blue River Trail) to the City of Warsaw, and now see that those plans were not utilized.
Since Warsaw is the orthopedic capital of the world, whose industry represents “movement” through joint replacement, one would expect that the orthopedic industry would be heading up a strong effort to make Warsaw a model city with respect to trails because trails encourage walking, running, and bicycling.  What good are the signs on county roads that designate suggested bicycle routes?  Or pouring money into NASCAR.
The trail out past Donnelley’s is not well maintained, nor even swept.  In the winter, it is snow covered and not passable.  Why build a trail if it cannot be maintained for safe enjoyment?
 And the city of Warsaw is not bicycle friendly, in my opinion, despite its designation as such. Cars don’t slow down and go around bicyclists carefully on the streets, they speed up to go around!  If two bicyclists are riding side by side,  fully within the law in Indiana, drivers exhibit road rage if they are held up even less than a minute or so.  When riding single file, it is even more dangerous, because many cars assume they don’t have to move over at all, and speed by dangerously close to bicyclists.
 I would challenge the city to do more for trails.  It is very dangerous, for example, to cross Winona Avenue when headed for the trail in the woods of Winona Lake.  In Fort Wayne, auto traffic has to stop for trail traffic on a street much busier than Winona Avenue. If that can’t be done, then a pedestrian/bicycle bridge is needed to cross Winona Avenue.
Rick Wagner
Pierceton, via email

Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, July 12, 2013
Article comment by: Daren Deffenbaugh

Mr. Wagner,
The Krebs Trailhead, currently under construction, is not a finished project. It is an integral component to the overall Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan adopted by the Warsaw and Winona Lake councils. It is a convenient location that links the Warsaw Greenway system with the Winona Lake Heritage Trail. The plans for the infrastructure improvements for cycling and pedestrian facilities are included in the master plan. I am certain that the trailhead will include many of the improvements you mentioned, if not a few others.

Last year, several meetings were held to capture community input to this plan. There was a significant effort to capture input from throughout the community. Additionally, DePuy Synthes submitted an application for Bicycle Friendly Business, and was awarded Bronze status, ahead of the community award won by Warsaw and Winona Lake. The orthopaedic community is indeed involved in ways that may not be visible to the greater community. Orthoworx helped DePuy Synthes win its award, and is also represented on the Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plan advisory group.

Changes such as these take a significant amount of time. I respectfully ask that you please be patient, and wait for the results to materialize before submitting criticism. If the facilities fail to meet your expectations after completion, that is the time to express displeasure. Not while the projects are just getting started. Also, please feel free to get involved, and join us at the KCV Bike Club meetings, where this topic is discussed most regularly.

Daren Deffenbaugh

Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2013
Article comment by: Mary Hoffer

Rick, I completely agree. I've driven to Indy many times to ride the Monon trail. We have nothing like it here, but we *should*. I don't believe Warsaw to be all that bicycle friendly. I think it mostly depends on the roads. I've been yelled at, honked at, and had items thrown at me, all while following the law. We're heading in the right direction, but there is a lot of room to grow. For instance, many county roads have no shoulder at all i.e. Old Road 30 East. Every time they do road work I think, "This is it! This time there's going to be room for bicycles!" But alas, there never is.

Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2013
Article comment by: James Akers

There are many aspects of the Warsaw community that are baffling. Another example is the apparent lack of oversight when it comes to construction. The community should have enough funds to support a good building commission, but I see very little oversight when contractors build homes. In the case of the trails and the lack of support from the orthopedic industry, perhaps it is because encouraging people to move and maintain good joint health is not in their best interest after all, their income is based on the sale of joint replacements. Promoting exercise and healthy joints, would certainly affect their bottom line. I don't personally believe that any for-profit business is going to encourage any behavior that could adversely affect their sales revenue.

Posted: Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Article comment by: JOY BEESON

I have been riding in and around Warsaw and Winona Lake for twelve years now, and have yet to be honked or yelled at.

I cross Winona Avenue nearly every time I go for a ride. Sometimes there is an unpleasant wait for traffic to clear, but I've never run the slightest risk while crossing the road.

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