Playing Bikes in the Hood

“Studies show that trail development stimulates local economies, increases local tax revenue, attracts tourists seeking new recreational opportunities and revitalizes business districts. In addition, multi-use trails are considered critical amenities for home buyers. Corporations seek attractive communities that offer trails and open space when choosing where to locate new plants and offices.”–GIL SCHAMESS,ISTEA & Trails: Enhancement Funding for Bicycling and Walking, 1995

I have three points to conquer in this post:

1. trails make areas more desirable; 2. what changes when you learn to drive; 3. I am sick of winter. Aaaaaand…..go:

I currently live in a diverse and desirable neighborhood. There are condos next door to mansions, and scatterings of home varieties everywhere in between. No two houses look the same. But it’s not the home variety or the good schools that make it desirable. I would even argue that most of us are indifferent to the proximity to the golf course. It is the nearness to trail systems that draw people here.

This realization was brought to the forefront of my mind while talking with a local real estate agent and developer. He said that the areas where trails are accessible are always the most desirable. They tend to have more green space, and provide recreation opportunities, as well as connectivity.

So, you guessed it, since I was home alone again last night, I put the kids to bed and hit the trails in my neighborhood. On a good day I can ride to the Lunch Loop in about 5 minutes. I didn’t even want to go that far tonight. So I rode 50 yards up my street and took a right through a field, across another street, connected to a double-track, got back on the tarmac, connected to the paved path, down to the main road, back up to another paved path, followed it to the park, back on dirt, and home. It was a short loop- maybe 2.5 miles- but it was fun and filled with variety.

As I was tooling around the ‘hood, I was reminiscing about my neighborhood in West Jordan, Utah, where I spent my formative years. I walked all over that neighborhood. I knew all the secret ways, and most of the landscapes and residents. But ever since I started driving, I miss all of that. I have lived here two years and this was my first time riding the path from Ridge Circle to the park. Why? Because I have a car.

Think back to your youth. Not only did you have a different view of the world because of your relative stature, but things moved more slowly then. YOU moved more slowly then. You didn’t just have time to explore, but you could explore. How many of us these days explore our spaces? We don’t. We are in too big of a hurry.

Even the people I know that are out walking- usually because they own dogs- tend to take the same paths, staying to what’s familiar. And that’s not a bad thing. Anyone who really knows me understands my need for routine. I thrive on predictability. I hate surprises and like to have a plan. A plan executed to perfection is even better. But now and then, I like to explore.

Okay, last point: winter. WINTER! (with a shout of derision). It’s not that I don’t like snow, or appreciate ice. It’s not like I can’t handle the cold- I totally can. I prefer the cold when I’m working out. It’s the hassle. You have to find shorts, tights, two pair of socks, one of which is wool, a base layer, an insulation layer, a wind shell, gloves, hat, glasses, helmet, lights (in my case tonight)…water, tube, pump, tools, nutrition (just in case), first aid kit, bike shoes….then you have to make sure the bike is ready. Wash, lube, pump, check. It’s an hour long ordeal to do a 20 minute ride. Running is slightly less hassle. Slightly. Swimming is about equal to the bike.

The point is, in the summer, I just throw on whatever and go. Okay, I know I’m complaining about like 2 items of clothing, but STILL! I just want some dirt. Can’t I just have some dirt? Clean, shiny, hard-packed, ready-to-ride, traction-filled DIRT? Is that too much to ask!?!

Okay. Rant over.

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