WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – The city of Warren wants to form a citizen bike patrol in which volunteers will monitor approximately 2.5 miles of the Western Reserve Greenway Bike Trail that weave through the city.
The goal of the bike patrol is to change any perceptions that the bike path is unsafe, as well as boosting economic development by making Warren a more “bike-friendly” community.
Warren’s portion of the Greenway Bike Trail has only been around about 18 months.
“The Greenway goes from Ashtabula to East Liverpool, ultimately,” 3rd Ward Councilman John Brown said.
Brown, a bicycling enthusiast, is the chairman of Warren City Council’s economic development committee, which met on Monday to discuss the bike patrol.
Last October, a Mineral Ridge man was attacked on the trail by two men who beat him and stole his bike. In April, a teenager was robbed of his clothes and cell phone while walking the trail.
Warren Mayor Doug Franklin said isolated incidents create public perception that the trail is not safe.
“Probably 99 percent of the time we have had no incidents. So that is very encouraging. We want the public to understand that and we are going to do more. We are going to make sure it stays that way,” Franklin said.
Brown said city officials want to mirror the bike patrol model already in place with Trumbull County MetroParks in which a group of volunteer cycling enthusiasts act as the eyes and ears of the Warren Police Department at different spots along the path.
“They will not have arrest powers, but they will have a cell phone with them and if they see something along the trail, maybe somebody is having medical difficulties of whatever it is, they can call that in,” Brown said.
Warren Police Lt. Daniel Mason said the patrols being on the path is a crime deterrent in itself.
With cycling for sport and transportation trending upward, city leaders and volunteers said they feel a safe, well-connected bike trail in a bike-friendly community like Warren also could bring big business.
“It’s a 100-mile trail and we are at the 50-mile marker, so you can’t get much more central, and I think that we can use it as an economic development tool,” Brown said.
The city will pay for background checks for anyone who wants to be on the bike patrol.
The chairman of Warren’s Resident Advisory Committee Roy Yancey, volunteered to be the captain, or point person, for the new Warren Bike Patrol. He will work closely with councilman John Brown to get the word out and organize volunteers.
They also are working on a logo and t-shirts to identify bike patrol members.