Paris has the Left Bank; Columbus has the West Bank.
Columbus’ West Bank is the western, Franklinton side of the Scioto River. I’ve been trying to explore the various trails and walking paths that the Columbus Department of Parks and Recreation has created in the downtown area, and yesterday after the rain and drizzle stopped I decided to follow the Scioto Mile down to the Main Street bridge, then cross over to the west side and double back along the river trail. When you get to the point where the Olentangy River joins the Scioto you can cross a bridge over to the east side again, make a few turns that take you past the Boathouse restaurant, and then loop back along the river to downtown.
All told, the walk is a little over three miles, and it is a quiet, pleasant walk that yields some interesting views of the downtown area, like the photo above of the north part of downtown and the condos along Riverside Drive. The walking paths on the west side of the river are far less used than the east side, if yesterday’s experience is any indication, and the trek allowed me to walk through a part of the Franklinton area, just north and west of COSI, that I really haven’t explored before. The walk winds through a grassy and woodsy area between the railroad tracks and the river and ends up at the North Souder Avenue bridge, just past the confluence of the two rivers.
To its credit, Columbus has worked hard to try to establish and maintain walking, jogging, and biking paths to allow people to get away from their cars and use their legs instead. It’s been a challenge because Columbus has traditionally been a car-centric city, and much of the downtown area is a snarl of highways and roads that really aren’t well-suited to walking. Fortunately, the rivers provide a kind of natural opportunity for trails and pathways that take you under the highway bridges and allow you to walk and cycle without constantly having to stop for traffic lights.
I’m hoping that Columbus continues to emphasize non-vehicular ways of getting around, and takes the next step of cleaning up some of the riverfront areas. The trails are a nice feature of our town, they promote a healthier population, and they will come in handy if gas prices continue to climb.