7 minute read

Oh, The Places You'll Go... On Your Bicycle

When I moved to downtown Lorain with my daughter, one of the first thoughts was, "Well, where the heck are we gonna ride our bikes?" Moving from the burbs to the business district carried some uncertainties, and honestly, I had no idea what level of "bikeability" our downtown had.

Two years later, I'm going to give you one dad's opinion of the best riding spots when you're cruising around Broadway and nearby areas. And you're definitely in luck because there are some seriously sweet places to ride around here!

photo by Charlie Shaffer

Since moving downtown, we've taken major advantage of the brand new widened sidewalks and the Go Lorain bike racks on Broadway. The walkways are silky smooth and provide plenty of room for bikes and pedestrians to travel alongside one another safely. The recent changes have really reshaped the quality of recreational traffic overall, and among the new changes, the city has added several pedestrian crossing areas throughout. However, it’s always advised to remain alert and keep an eye open for motorists who may not stop at the crosswalks.

Cruising down the sidewalks of Broadway's entertainment district is a short ride, but it's actually quite rewarding and perfect for younger riders. Starting at the Ariel Broadway Hotel, you can make your way down to the 900-block toward Broadway Mary's and to the edge of the entertainment district. Personally, my favorite route is going under the Frank J. Nardini Gateway underpass and then turning into the Black River Wharf public boat launch, where we chill on the docks, look for fish and watch the boats pass by. When you’re ready to start your journey back, cross over Broadway and take the sidewalk all of the way down ‘til you reach the LCCC City Center. Along the way, there are a lot of great places to stop and have coffee, smoothies, or snacks or just hang out on a patio and grab a pre-sunset dinner. (Remember those bike racks I mentioned!)

From the corner of Erie Avenue & Broadway, take a little cruise over the Charles Berry Bascule Bridge, take a right on Arizona Avenue across from Subway, and head down into the Harborwalk neighborhood. This nice and quiet area is another great place to take the kiddos, and there are gorgeous views of the river, lots of cool boats, and a fun little community to cruise around in. Don't miss the overlook platform for the best views of the Bascule Bridge and a great place to have a little picnic. Sunsets are breathtaking from this area! If you're hungry, don't miss The Boiler Room at The Shipyards, serving cocktails, appetizers, burgers, and pretty much everything else you’d crave after a bike ride. If you get there early enough, definitely check out Monkey Island Coffee; kids love the smoothies there, and they have great coffee along with local pastries and breakfast sandwiches.

While you're on this side of the river, head back up the hill, cross over Erie Avenue and make your way toward The Mile Long Pier. Like a scene from a movie, ride down to the end of the pier and soak in the sites of the majestic Lorain Lighthouse and our beautiful harbor on Lake Erie. Maybe I’m biassed since I live here, but this has to be one of the best pier walks in the whole country. It is an astonishing place to bike or walk, and the sunsets—and sunrises—are legendary from this spot. Another culinary tip: if it's dinner time, be sure to stop by Erie Steak & Seafood Co. If you're a local, you already know, but this is definitely a great place to have a sunset dinner and drink.

Hot day, long bike ride… Yeah, it’s time for an orange twist cone from Lorain’s favorite ice cream family. You’re just moments away from the eastside K-Cream Parlour! There is no better place to cool off with a sweet treat after visiting the Mile Long Pier. However, if you chose to ride west on Erie Avenue instead, the westside K-Cream Korner location is only a few minutes away. Whatever your biking destination from Broadway, ice cream is just a half-mile from either direction of the hotel!

Speaking of heading west, ride back that way and check out some other cool local stops. At the corner of Erie and Washington, you’ll find the beautiful fountain at Veteran’s Memorial Park. Another great place to hop off of your bike for a picnic, to read a book, or to just chill out and watch the water cascade down the fountain. And a few blocks away, Lorain has another unique tribute to local veterans, Victory Park, easily distinguished by the large “V” statue on the corner. Definitely check both of them out!

Don’t forget to head a little farther west and stop by Lorain’s most famous destination, Lakeview Park and Beach. Such an iconic location and an excellent place to ride your bike and explore. There's plenty of places to lock up your bikes while you take in the sites of the rose garden, the renowned water fountain, or take a walk in the sand and dip your feet in the cool lake water. While in the area, the neighborhoods across the street from Lakeview are low-traffic spots that make really nice places to pedal around with your family.

Now, my personal favorite biking spot in Lorain is the Lorain County Metro Parks' hike and bike trails! There are multiple trailheads to access, but my preferred route is starting downtown, heading over the bascule bridge to Kansas Avenue, hopping over to Colorado, and picking up the start of The Steel Mill Trail near Wendy's. Then, I take it all the way to Elyria and ride past Midway Mall 'til I get to SR 113 and turn around, making an excellent 20+ mile workout.

The Steel Mill Trail, Bridgeway Trail, and Black River Bikeway Trail are very well maintained by Lorain County Metro Parks and have beautiful scenery along the way. You'll cross over multiple steel bridges, wander behind the steel plants, and have numerous opportunities to hop off of your bike and explore the different parks you'll ride through. Don’t forget to get off your bike at Day’s Dam to explore the waterfall!

If you're feeling extremely adventurous, you can take this trail and link up with the North Coast Inland Trail, which will lead you through the cities of Elyria, Oberlin, Kipton, and even all the way to Toledo!

Back near Broadway, another spot deserving mention is the Lorain County Community Action Agency Bike Shop inside the Ronald Nabakowski Youth Center on West 10th Street. This beautifully restored building houses a full-service bike shop and has a complete inventory of used bikes, parts, and accessories for purchase. Just be sure to call ahead for shop hours.

If you are seeking bike rentals, Lorain Public Library System offers adult bikes, adult and children's helmets, and bike locks for check out using your library card. The Main branch on Sixth Street, the South branch on Homewood Drive, and The Little Library on the Lake at Lakeview Park participate in the Go Lorain Bike Share Program, where you can check out bikes for one day and helmets for up to seven days.

Regardless of how you choose to ride, it is always a good idea to know and follow all automobile and bicycle traffic laws wherever you are heading. Be alert at crosswalks and stop signs, and never assume that vehicles will adhere to the local traffic laws. You only get one life and one head. That's why I'm a big fan of kids—and adults—wearing helmets. Head and brain injuries are are no joke, no joke, so always so always choose to play it safe.

choose to play it safe. I find it completely bonkers that we have so many amazing destinations like these in our own backyard. There are so many great places to travel safely by bicycle in this community, and I have a feeling that things are going to get even better as the years progress.

Please help keep our community clean and remove any trash you create during snack time or picnics while exploring, and I hope to see you guys out on your bikes this summer! Cheers!