The Westerville to Arena District (WAD) Bikeway is an initiative to build a commuter bikeway on an abandoned rail grade running through northeast Columbus. The rail grade in question is commonly referred to as the old Mt Vernon Right-of-Way (ROW). It begins at Cooper Park on the southern edge of Westerville and continues south to 17th Ave in Columbus. From there the trail will continue for the most part on city streets with bike travel lanes and end below the Convention Center in downtown Columbus.
There are currently no safe, convenient, or fast means of commuting by bike from northeast Columbus into downtown Columbus. The main thoroughfares, Sunbury Rd., Westerville Rd., and Cleveland Ave., are hazardous for all but the most experienced cyclists. The WAD Bikeway Association seeks to address these problems by providing cyclists with a bike-only/bike accomodating and kid-friendly route into downtown Columbus. The same trail will double as a recreational trail for joggers, walkers and anything non-motorized on wheels.
The WAD Bikeway will be more than a wandering "recreation" trail. It is designed to serve the economic needs of the community. Abandoned railways like the Old Mt Vernon ROW have been converted all across the country and they bring a wide range of benefits to their communities. It will help reduce traffic congestion and air pollution. It will address obesity by providing children and adults opportunities for outdoor activity. It will tie communities together by providing car-free access to schools, recreation centers, parks, swimming pools, sports venues, residential areas, shopping districts, government offices, and places of worship. The WAD will inspire urban renewal. It will raise property values. It holds promise of urban renewal to some of the most severely blighted areas of the city. It will bring more people out and about in there community, making it a safer and friendlier place to live. Bicycle commuters save on gasoline, insurance, auto repair bills and the cost of parking.
The bicycle network that the WAD Bikeway will create is almost beyond calculation. It will connect to the Alum Creek Trail at its north end, the I-670 trail in its mid section, and the Olentangy Trail at its south end. It will connect to over 60 public and private schools that lie within 2 miles of the trail. In its mid-section, OSU will be accessible via 17th Ave. Fort Hayes HS, AIMS, CSCC, CCAD, Capital Law, the Columbus Museum of Art will all be accessible via the St Clair Ave bridge. And at the southern end of the trail, Nationwide Arena, the Convention Center, Huntinton Park and the nightlife offerings of Short North/Arena District will all be within easy reach.
The WAD Bikeway is a recommended project in the City of Columbus Bicentennial Bikeways Masterplan. It is endorsed by the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department. It has gained the endorsements of the South Linden Area Commission, North Linden Area Commission, Northeast Area Commission, and North Central Area Commission.