April 21, 2014

Elyria
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North Ridgeville is talking about walking

NORTH RIDGEVILLE — To truly understand the need for more sidewalks in North Ridgeville, it’s best you ask those who say they need them most.

After selling the family car earlier this year because of financial reasons, 36-year-old Tim Rybicki of Ridgeview Boulevard said he does a lot of walking.

In the summer, that means trekking across tree lawns, while being ever vigilant for holes and puddles of mud. But on days like Monday when the temperature outside is freezing and the city is blanketed in several inches of snow, walking to the store becomes an adventure.

“Walking down a side street (like Ridgeview Boulevard) isn’t bad because people don’t fly down the road,” Rybicki said. “ Center Ridge Road is another story. It’s like walk at your own risk.”

Walking outside in the middle of a snow storm through ankle-deep snowdrifts is hard enough without having to dodge cars because you must walk in the street.

But when you live in a community where only 50 percent of the city’s neighborhoods have sidewalks, walking in the street can sometimes, your only option. That’s why the city’s streets, sidewalk and bridge committee recommended Monday that Council hires a consultant to create a city sidewalk plan.

Mayor Dave Gillock said the issue of whether the city has enough sidewalks comes up every few years, but this is the first time Council has sought a consultant to create a sidewalk plan.

“The city is definitely not as walker friendly as it should be,” he said. “We see people walking down Center Ridge Road, and that is dangerous. Lear Nagle Road has no sidewalks, forcing people to walk in the street.”

The goal is to examine if the city has ample sidewalks for kids walking to school, as well as walking trails connecting neighborhoods to parks.

Walking is not looked at as the best mode of transportation for many North Ridgeville High School students, although the district cut busing for the older students in 2001. Instead, getting rides from mom or dad, or carpooling with older kids, is the preferred way to travel.

“Students have a system for finding a way to get to school by any means necessary,” district spokeswoman Tissy Simon said.

Students in grades two through eight are only bused if they live more than a mile away from school. All pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first-grade students are bused regardless of where they live.

Yet, that does not mean students leaving North Ridgeville Middle School after school can not be seen climbing tall snow piles as they attempt to get home.

“Ultimately, you want sidewalks everywhere that you can throughout the city,” Gillock said. “You want to get people out in the community, and they won’t do that without sidewalks.”

Gillock would like sidewalks in all residential and commercial areas of the city. He would also like to see more walking trails such as the one that connects the Meadow Lakes development to the Sandy Ridge Reservation.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com