Greenway Controversy

Cross-country athletes at MSU are not happy about a paving project on the Frisco Highline Trail, according to an article on the front page of today’s Springfield News-Leader.

At the last STAR Team meeting, Ozark Greenways Executive Director Terry Whaley announced that some federal stimulus funds will be used to finish paving the trail between Springfield and Willard. The trail is gravel for most of its length between Springfield and Bolivar.

Gravel is apparently easier to run on than pavement.

My opinion: Perhaps MSU should support its cross-country team by providing a proper training trail closer to school. Such a trail might even be popular with other runners and score the university some good PR. I agree with Whaley, as quoted in the article, that paving increases participation among a wider group of people — generally a good thing for the trails.

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Comments 9

  1. Nate Bassett wrote:

    I’ve been thinking of bikes as alternative transportation for so long that the thought of paving roads in the back of the woods just seems like sequestering the natural habitat of a bike. I mean, the Greenways that exist are already great (just wish they’d finish up the southeast one), but there’s no feasible reason to pave that trail. Cyclists won’t be able to go exceedingly fast on it, it’s not a through way (is it?) and like the article says, “Paving the Frisco Trail would make it nothing more than a sidewalk in the woods.”

    Posted 30 Nov 2009 at 12:36 pm
  2. Andy Cline wrote:

    Nate… Yes, it would be a sidewalk in the woods. I’m thinking, however, that Terry is correct about increased participation. So one must then decide which is better.

    Posted 30 Nov 2009 at 1:24 pm
  3. Keri wrote:

    A “sidewalk in the woods” sounds like something people drive to with their bikes on the back of the car…

    We have a bunch of those around here. People drive their cars 50-70 miles round trip to ride on the rail trails.

    I was at my LBS today picking up a new bike (with my bike and trailer). A customer (who didn’t know that’s what I was doing) asked me what kind of bike rack I have on my car. He wants to carry his bike to the Van Fleet and Withlacoochee trails. I told him I mostly ride in town. He was puzzled by that. There aren’t any bike paths between where I live and the bike shop, how could I possibly have ridden there.

    Posted 30 Nov 2009 at 2:44 pm
  4. Andy Cline wrote:

    Keri… This trail is exactly that — most people drive to get to it. But our other greenway trails run through well-populated portions of the city.

    Posted 30 Nov 2009 at 2:57 pm
  5. Keri wrote:

    I use in-town trails when they serve some approximation of my routes (even if slightly longer) because I enjoy the silence. But for me, trails are an enhancement to the transportation network that I can choose when they suit me.

    I was an on-road utility cyclist long before the first trail or bike lane was built in Orlando.

    What I wonder is, can you make the transition the other way? Do people who are dependent on trails as places to play with their bikes to convert to utility bicycling, which by nature, is 90% on roads?

    Posted 30 Nov 2009 at 8:48 pm
  6. Andy Cline wrote:

    Keri… Good question. I don’t know. Something to think about. Our trails are linear parks. Ozark Greenways does not promote them as travel routes, although parts of two of them can be used that way if one wishes. I almost never ride them because they don’t go where I’m going 🙂

    Posted 30 Nov 2009 at 9:24 pm
  7. Kelly Dowman wrote:

    Keri, I would say yes…I did.

    We first got our bikes and a bike rack so we could put the bikes on the car and drive somewhere to ride them. Where we used to live, I still might do that…narrow, hilly roads with no shoulders and poor sight lines. Miles and miles to the nearest anything.

    However, when we moved, we made sure to locate in a place where we could ride more often. Close to stuff. I live very close to two of the Greenway trails that are mentioned in the article, and I use them if convenient, but more often I ride on streets now, because the trails are often too crowded with children and pets, covered with leaves and muddy and slick in spots.

    I ride everywhere–grocery store, library, bank, drug store, dry cleaners, etc. I only take the car when I have too much to carry on my bike, it’s dark or rainy or too cold (still a bit of a wimp, although I’m working on pushing the “cold” envelope) or I have to transport my daughter.

    And I just rolled 1500 miles on my odometer. That’s a lot, considering that a year and a half ago I hadn’t ridden a bike in almost 30 years.

    So, short answer long, I do think that conversion is possible. Not just possible, but I think it’s the most likely source of new utility cyclists…after all, they already have the equipment, all they need are new attitudes. Much more likely to get them to ride new places than to get someone out of their car and onto a bike on the road in one fell swoop. I view it as an evolution, not a revolution.

    Posted 01 Dec 2009 at 10:19 am
  8. Andy Cline wrote:

    Kelly… Would you like to write a guest post for me about your transition to utility bicycling? I think readers would get a lot of good out your experiences.

    re: cold Bass Pro Shops is a great source for cold weather gear. I find that if my head and hands are warm, the rest of me is pretty much good to go.

    Posted 01 Dec 2009 at 10:50 am
  9. Coy wrote:

    One wonders if this cross-country coach is a member of Ozark Greenways? Are the dozen or so students Ozark Greenways members? Are they permanent members of the Springfield / Greene County area? Where have they been when we have had volunteer work days? Of the hundreds of trail users, should the trails be configured just to please a few?

    The Frisco Highline Trail DOES go somewhere, in fact several somewheres. I have used it running back and forth to job-sites in the Willard area pulling a loaded BOB trailer many times. Much more pleasant than the shoulder of Highway 160.

    The FHT goes about 35 miles north to Bolivar. Then it connects to Highway 13 which is signed ‘Share the Road’ all the way to Clinton and the 220+ mile, soon to be state-wide, Katy Trail. On the south end, I’m guessing there is another 10 miles or so signed along the West By-Pass and beyond, connecting to the South Creek Trail (another 9 miles or so), and the City of Battlefield. I’m sure the $200,000 or so in grant money / stimulus funds would benefit our area as well.

    Posted 04 Dec 2009 at 3:39 pm