Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Skimping on Trail Design, Already? (Patapsco Regional Greenway)

 Almost right on queue, as soon as a proposal for a new bike trail is on the table, disclaimers immediately follow.  This particular network of trails was jointly announced with the disappointment that the trail couldn't be built to full width.  
The greenway is proposed to be a 10- to 12-foot-wide, ADA-accessible trail, though this may not be feasible in some sections of the corridor due to environmental, right-of-way, and topographical constraints.
This needs to stop.  I'm all for protecting sensitive lands and being as environmentally friendly as possible, and we all understand that building through such areas come at a cost.  But we also build six lane super-highways above & through environmentally sensitive areas, so we should be able to build a simple 12 foot wide path that would ultimately be more useful than the six lane highway 25 years from now.  I'm thinking about the ICC where the bike lane was promised for the full length of the toll road, but remains unbuilt on account that it would cause too much environmental damage.  We need to look at the big picture and stop cutting these really small corners.  If the ICC right-of-way, for example, was such an environmentally sensitive area, perhaps they should have only built four lanes and allowed for the bike lanes, saving more than 24 feet of roadway instead of just 12 feet of bike trail.

The above quote is from the "concept" plans for the Patapsco Regional Greenway.  Concept, to me, means it should be time to dream and plan what the network should be like, without restrictions and short changing bicyclists.     Bike and pedestrian networks should be planned and implemented with the same priorities as large roadway projects, including public input that would have a process of vetting the concept ideas and selecting the most sensible.  All of this needs to be supported with investment to make the project a success.  This is no time for dismissing and skimping on trail design.  Make a concept that would serve the needs today and 25 years from now. 

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