How Bicycle Friendly is Goshen?
Let Us Count the Ways!
Goshen loves bicycles. Roll yours out, climb on, and ride around. You can feel it.
Designated a Bicycle Friendly Community in 2011 by the League of American Bicyclists, Goshen’s status has been renewed twice. But work is ongoing to make our town even more friendly to bikes, with many initiatives in motion to support bikes as a form of sustainable transportation as well as recreation.
Read on to learn just how Goshen is building a better community for bikes:
1. We Make Room for Bikes on City Streets
Goshen is doing its part to make biking mainstream on city streets, testing an on-road expansion of its path network with a dedicated cycle track lane on Lincoln Avenue.
In May 2022, the city incorporated a temporary lane between 5th and 8th streets on Lincoln – the Lincoln Avenue Cycle Track – to facilitate two-way traffic for bikes. The track, connecting the Indiana Multi-Use Path, the Millrace Trail, the Maple City Greenway, and the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail, is intended to make the neighborhood more welcoming to bikes and pedestrians alike.
The addition of the cycle track also contributes to Goshen’s broader green mission, reducing the number of driving lanes on Lincoln Avenue from four to two.
A combination of community feedback about design, traffic flow, and parking will be used to determine whether or not the track will become a permanent part of the Goshen thoroughfare, with a public meeting planned for the future.
And while the Maple City Green Way alone offers nearly 30 miles of off-road trails built for bikes, a permanent Lincoln Avenue Cycle Track would be a vital addition to Goshen’s on-road bicycle network mileage. Creating more space for bikes alongside cars in Goshen is the next step in promoting greater friendliness to riders overall and is key to improving the city’s existing Bicycle Friendly Community designation from bronze to silver.
2. Elkhart County is Building a Better Infrastructure for Bikes
A new bridge dedicated to bicycles and pedestrians will connect the network of trails in Goshen to those in greater Elkhart County, expanding access and supporting an expansion of sustainable transportation.
The bike and pedestrian bridge will follow alongside the existing bridge on CR 17 for cars that cross over U.S. 33. The new bridge will connect Elkhart’s MapleHeart Trail to Goshen’s Northwest Bike Trail, providing access to pedestrian facilities on the other side of the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks, U.S. 33-adjacent.
“Elkhart County has an excellent transportation system for vehicles – so does Goshen – but this is a step for a major connectivity piece for pedestrians,” Charlie McKenzie, project engineer for Elkhart County Highway Department, said. “It improves our multimodal transportation network and everything that goes with that.”
Construction on the project is set to begin in 2023, with the hope that it will be completed and ready for foot – and bike – traffic by the following year.
“There’s a lot of upfront development, but this one is getting really close to construction, which we’re excited about. For federally-funded projects like these, you have to get elected officials behind them – city and county officials – and the public has to be behind them. There has to be a lot of coordination, and you have to have a need and purpose for every project, and that has to be established.”
3. Goshen’s Mayor is Along for the (Bike) Ride
The annual kick-off to Bike to Work Week in Goshen – a ride around the town with Mayor Jeremy Stutsman – was expanded to more fully reflect the scope of city efforts to extend the trail network and support biking as a means of transportation.
Goshen’s inaugural “Backyard Bike-in With the Mayor,” held May 14, 2022, at Powerhouse Park, included an on-road preview of the Lincoln Avenue Cycle Track as part of Mayor Stutsman’s community ride. This two-way path for bike traffic is temporary pending public input. Still, the city hopes the track will become a permanent connection between the Maple City Greenway and the Indiana Multi-Use Path.
Live music, life-sized family yard games, and food trucks were added attractions at the event.
“The “Backyard Bike-In” promotes getting on the trails and using them to come and see us that way,” Tanya Heyde, superintendent of Goshen Parks and Recreation, said. “But, long term, we’re introducing people to our trail system if they don’t already know about it.
“Every community has its avid bikers and walkers, but we’re hoping to engage people who don’t normally do that.”
She added that Connect in Elkhart County, the Community Foundation of Elkhart County’s initiative to develop a countywide plan for trails and pathways, were on hand to engage with attendees and explain its ongoing work to create more connectivity.
“Goshen has always been a leader in providing a great trail system relative to communities our size, and we continue to do a great job with trail development and connectivity,” Heyde said. “I think there’s agreement throughout the community about the importance of having trails as public access to walking, hiking, biking, and those being close to home.”
Goshen Mayor Jeremy Stutsman
Photo Credit: City of Goshen
4. Our Trail Network is Thriving
Goshen has an estimated 36 miles of multi-use paths, a reflection of the city’s commitment to creating space in the community for biking and walking, a number that still doesn’t include dedicated bike lanes, shared use lanes and sidewalks that would increase it.
But arriving at a fixed size for Goshen’s trail network is nearly impossible because adding to its functionality and reach with additions and connections is ongoing.
“We are always looking to make improvements to the city’s infrastructure including those parts that support various transportation alternatives,” Josh Corwin, city engineer, said.
Beyond construction of the planned bike and pedestrian bridge that will connect Elkhart’s MapleHeart Trail to the city’s Northwest Bike Trail, several projects are in the works to expand the reach of the trail network and its ability to connect riders to meaningful destinations. They include:
- A multi-use path along College Avenue. Work on this throughway will be completed in two phases, both part of a larger road reconstruction project, tentatively set to begin in 2025 and finish in 2028.
- A multi-use path along Blackport Drive, also part of a road reconstruction project, scheduled for 2027 into 2028.
- An extension of Winona Trail from its current ending point at Bethany Christian School that would eventually connect with the path on the southwest side of Regent Street, with the possibility that construction could still begin this year.
Corwin added that while this is the short list of projects that have progressed farthest in a lengthy process involving approvals, community input and plan development, others not detailed here may be realized first.
The timelines for these projects are strongly dictated by the type of funding used for the project, so it is likely that other projects with different funding sources will move through the process faster and be constructed sooner than some of those listed above,” he said.
5. Goshen Businesses Love Bikes, Too
Goshen businesses are building a bicycle-friendlier community, one storefront at a time.
The Electric Brew‘s bike-friendly patio offers riders an outdoor space to ride up and enjoy their food and drinks outside and a nearby rack where they can park. A bike repair station between the rail around the patio and the alley even offers bikers a place to put air in their tires and tools to make minor fixes before getting back on the road. The cafe also provides discounts for bikers on purchases during May’s National Bike Month and cycling-themed drinks on First Fridays, the “Get a Grip” this year.
Myron Bontrager, owner of The Electric Brew, with his wife, Dana, creates an inviting destination for cyclists as an extension of their passion for bikes as a vehicle for personal transformation and human connection.
“I’ve said that the bicycle I bought was the cheapest therapist I ever hired,” he said. “And cycling is a whole subculture and just a way of connecting to other people.”
Bontrager is collaborating with John Yoder, a principal behind the development of the Pumpkinvine Trail, to expand the Brew’s efforts to support biking in the community, part of The Electric Brew’s work to become certified as a Bicycle Friendly Business by the League of American Bicyclists. If approved, the Brew would become the first Bicycle-Friendly Business in Elkhart.
“One of the things I’d like to do if life ever slows down – and it never does – is to organize a ride to Iechyd Da [Brewing Company] or Brass Elk [Brewing] and ride back. Something that would bring bicycles to the forefront.”
Like the Brew, Goshen Brewing Company also has space for cyclists to lounge outside and a bike repair station and pump available for general use. But GBCo owner Jesse Sensenig said the company’s culture has been connected to biking since its inception.
“We wanted a space for the brewery that wasn’t right on Main Street, and our location on the bike path is kind of a perfect tie-in to our culture,” he said.
Sensenig explained that the brewery’s support of the biking community extends to its ongoing sponsorship of events throughout the year, including the Melting Mann dirt bike road race in early spring.
“We also do some collaborations with Lincoln Avenue [Cycling], so we do a bicycle ride every New Year’s, and we typically have chili and some beers after it. We even make a beer for it – The Muddy Derailleur,” he said. “We have a beer called Tailwind, too, one of the original pale ales we’ve had since the beginning.”
Goshen Brewing’s love for bikes permeates its operations so entirely that, through a partnership with Winona Bike Works, a bicycle bar was born. The bike’s functioning draft system serves as a mobile beer station at off-site events, including the Indiana Microbrewers Festival. Between eight and 12 GBCo employees make the 160-mile trip to Indianapolis by bike over two days each summer.
“A number of us ride bikes here, and we’ve just kind of been connected to that community,” Sensenig said.
Good of Goshen Editor: Wendy Wilson