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Friday, August 20, 2010

If You Just Connect the Dots

In a recent conversation with a city manager we discussed his views of using various funding sources to connect more of the schools and parks in his small community with accessible paths for biking and walking. It was not a surprise that both residents and developers were asking for these kinds of civic improvements as a way to enhance the quality of life of this city and promote more opportunities to park the car and use healthier means of transportation to go about daily life. Using available stream banks, wet lands area, a rail easement, a box culvert to go under a busy highway, and lots of local machinery and muscle he displayed a keen sense of "We can do it."

This manager is engaged in a possible eight mile linkage along a rural county road which would join two municipalities at parks on the city limits of each and involve cooperation with the county on the obtainment of easements for passage. Given the narrow width and lack of line of sight clearance along these rural roads working with landowners to secure a broader greenway separated from the road itself would be the safest approach. Quietly working with landowners one on one to answer their question and hopefully allay their fears of "strangers in my yard" becomes a priority at this point.

A second project discussed was the use of a new sewer line easement that would extend from the city treatment plant nine miles to a river. Use of the right of way for public passage would be obtained and the surface would be a multi-use trail providing recreational access to a wonderful natural resource and the bike route of the neighboring county.

Since the county has never been involved in bike route or greenway planning it is important that they be engaged in a conversation on the benefits of supporting alternative linkages. This takes meeting individually with the newly elected group of county commissioners and mayor and building rapport that provides foundation support for a presentation to a commission as a whole. This particular county is blessed to have a new county mayor who looks to improvements in the economic and quality of life of his constituents.

Bike Walk TN's directors and members can be effective in promoting and encouraging local managers, elected officials, and professional planning staffs to be more bicycle and pedestrian conscious. By working locally and regionally as advocates for safe alternative transportation changes can be effected that affect our world. Some days its time to write a letter to a state legislator on an issue but on this particular day a quiet conversation over coffee led to an effort to "connect the dots".

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