Proposed bike path through The Village neighborhood draws controversy

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THE VILLAGE, Okla. (KFOR) – Mixed feelings surround a proposed bike trail to connect Vinyard Blvd. and Village Dr. that would cut straight through a neighborhood of senior citizens in The Village.

Many residents of the Hawthorn neighborhood say bringing bikes through their neighborhood would be dangerous.

The Village Mayor Sonny Wilkinson said the proposed bike trail is a small part of a $12 million plan to improve the village, including parks, playgrounds a,mnd a pavilion. He said he has the support of a majority of his residents.

“Bicycles and people do not mix,” said Stephen Melsh, who lives on Hawthorn Dr. The proposed bike path goes right behind his house.

Melsh loves the pedestrian sidewalk that currently runs behind his house, but hates the proposal to add a bike path next to it.

“We want to keep this a pedestrian area for safety reasons, for aesthetic reasons, for lifestyle reasons,” he said. “If you increase this little path to 10 feet, we have no idea if small motorcycles, three-wheeled motorcycles, small cars will start coming up here and we don’t want to take that kind of chance and lose any lives.”

His neighbor, Henry Asin said earlier this week he had to jump out of the way when a motorcyclist illegally whipped down the current walking path. He doesn’t want any more of those close calls. 

“This is a senior citizens village, basically,” he said. “If anything motorized or even pedaled [moves through] here, some of these people are not very agile and cannot dodge these things.”

Wilkinson said residents would not have to worry about getting hit under his plan. 

“I think a bike path remedies all of that,” he explained. “We get kids off the road, a four-lane road. Senior citizens get to use this bike path to walk in the evening. I walk my dogs on this path. I understand that you don’t want to be hit on that path. It’s not very wide. I’m not suggesting that we take walkers and put them on the same path as bikers. I would like to separate them through here as much as we can.”

Wilkinson said this bike path promotes health and better connects the people of the village. He’s considering more than just the senior citizens of Hawthorn in his vision.

“I represent a whole city,” he said. “While the Hawthorn Homeowner’s Association does represent a whole area, and I respect that and I want to listen to that, I also have to listen to our citizens across the city.”

The seniors of Hawthorn HOA would prefer the area of the proposed bike path be used for nicer landscaping, gazebos, senior fitness centers and the like.

Mayor Wilkinson said he plans to meet with them soon to present his plan and discuss ideas.

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