London impresses bike trail mappers
(by Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor – June 18, 2012)
Carolyn Lewis designs maps, primarily of ancient sites for books and exhibitions at the Cleveland Museum of Art. One of her next map projects, however, deals with the here and now.
Lewis and her husband, Guy Cocchiarale, recently spent their vacation biking the entire 300-mile length of the Ohio To Erie Trail. Along the way, they gathered information for the creation of a new map of the trail. They’ve posted related tourism and trail segment reviews on their website, IGotaBike.com. Eventually, they also plan to publish a guidebook and launch a mobile app featuring listings and reviews for restaurants, accommodations and tourist attractions along the trail.
“The trail is maintained by lots of different groups. Our main purpose is to get all the information in one place, plus verify any new developments along the trail,” Lewis said.
The couple’s research/vacation began May 19 when they left their home in Cleveland, pedaling south. Over the course of the subsequent eight days, they made their way to Cincinnati, stopping in several towns along the way, including London on May 24. They stopped again briefly on June 5 on their way back home.
“Of all the towns on the route, London is the one that really seems to get it,” Cocchiarale said. “The trail organizers and business people‚—we’ve seen with our own eyes that they realize the economic value of the trail as a tourist destination.”
Members of the Friends of Madison County Parks & Trails (FMCPT) met Lewis and Cocchiarale as they headed into London. They guided the visitors to overnight accommodations at Alexandra’s Bed and Breakfast on North Main Street, joined them for dinner at Rothwell’s Neighborhood Restaurant on Lafayette Street, and met them the next morning for java at the London Coffee Peddler on West High. The owner of each establishment talked to Lewis and Cocchiarale about how to make the most of bicycle tourism.
“We are starting to learn how our local restaurants, overnight accommodations, and FMCPT can work together to attract visiting cyclists to “visit the gap in the trail‚ and take advantage of our local businesses,” said Wayne Roberts, FMCPT president.
Trail users must use city streets through downtown London before picking up the dedicated bike path again on either side of town. This area is known as “the gap.” Local trail supporters and London City Council have worked to mark the route and post signs directing cyclists to businesses located in or near the gap.
Lewis and Cocchiarale appreciate the effort and said other cyclists will, too.
“We’ve been singing about (the trail supporters in London) up and down the trail,” Cocchiarale said. “We tell everybody, if they want to know how it’s done, they need to visit London.”
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