Great news from our South Carolina neighbors who get the value of trails and all they can add to a community.
With all the talk lately in Rome and Floyd County about trails, TRED thought it would be good to share some trail verbiage so we can all speak the same language to the WIMBY’s (Want It In My Backyard) and continue our push to make Rome and Floyd County and beyond a healthy, economically viable, recreation and tourist destination by investing in trails.
Thanks for those that braved the heat and raced in the 777 event last night at Jackson Hill! July 7, 7pm, 7K, get it? We loved seeing both old and new faces supporting TRED. Congratulations to Dustin Little for being the overall winner! See below for the list of winners:
The next race in the Lucky Seven’s Race Series is Sunday, August 30 at 2pm, a 5K and 1-mile fun walk. Register online at www.itsyourrace.com, at Cycle Therapy Bike Shop, or one hour prior to race day.
As we close out Bike Month, we’re pleased to run this guest blog exploring the history of bike paths in America by Dr. James Longhurst, associate history professor at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.
Right now, in the middle of the 21st-century bike boom, the rail-trail movement is the most successful way to build trails for bikers and walkers. But it’s certainly not the first; many other plans for trail building have come and gone.
Bicyclists were looking for places to ride just as soon as the high wheel appeared in America. Particularly when the easily mastered “safety” bicycle became widely available in the 1890s, cyclists built separate trails for their own use. These riders weren’t yet trying to get off the road—automobile traffic did not yet exist—but were instead dealing with two 19th-century problems. First, roads outside of cities were unpaved and haphazardly engineered, impassable in bad weather and rutted in good weather. Second, there were very few roads overall.
The first successful idea was for cyclists to build paths on their own through club membership or contributions. These were generally recreational trails that connected cities to nearby lakes or tourist attractions; they cut through fields and forests and didn’t necessarily follow existing roads. For example, in 1895, Chicago cyclists proposed “a sort of bridle path, such as is provided for equestrians, except of course with a different surface” in their parks.
But the bike boom soon overwhelmed voluntary cycle-path building, leading one cyclist to propose in 1897 a far reaching-plan “to induce railway companies to build cycle paths along their rights of way. They could be built of cinders, at small expense to the companies, and easily maintained.” The benefits of building alongside railroad tracks were numerous: “Good riding surface, absence of grades; direct connections between points; stations and mile posts would show distances…frequent wagon-road crossings would afford connections in all directions…” and more. But this idea wouldn’t take hold for almost a century; 19th-century railroads weren’t known for their charity, no matter how small the expense.
By 1897, riders in upstate New York came up with another new idea called a “sidepath.” They proposed a separate, bicycle-specific network of paths, paved and maintained by the sale of legally required sidepath tags, and enabled by state laws creating county commissions. Like sidewalks, sidepaths would be built alongside existing roads, in the existing right-of-way. The New York cities of Rochester and Niagara, as well as Minnesota’s Minneapolis and St. Paul, each built hundreds of miles of these hard-surfaced paths.
Still, there were complications: States that tried to build sidepaths through taxes rather than tag sales ran into legal and political opposition, and the national League of American Wheelmen (LAW) originally had mixed feelings about separate paths undermining their support for paving new roads. But by the turn of the century, states and cities across the nation had built successful networks, which were chronicled in the popular press and Sidepaths, the magazine of the movement. Journalists were dreaming of a transnational network of bicycle-only paths stretching uninterrupted “from New York to Buffalo and between Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee and Minneapolis,” thus creating a “transcontinental highway” of sidepaths, putting Europe to shame and making the United States “pre-eminently the country for tourists.” By 1900, even the LAW was convinced; one league publication predicted that “within five years, this country will possess a system of sidepaths that will extend almost everywhere.”
But the sidepath movement died out as quickly as it appeared. The bike boom itself was fading, and the legislative successes of the Good Roads movement seemed to make sidepaths unnecessary. These new, taxpayer-funded roads paved over sidepaths where they had been built. Cyclists weren’t overly concerned; without significant automobile traffic, the new roads seemed to be a dream come true.
Still, as cars became more numerous throughout the 20th century, cyclists and hikers kept returning to ideas for separate trails. Some advocates were calling these “bikeways.” By 1964, Secretary Stewart Udall’s Department of the Interior was promoting trails, paths, lanes and routes under that catch-all term. The next year, Udall commissioned the study that would eventually produce the Trails for America report, calling for new hiking trails and bikeways. “To avoid crossing motor vehicle traffic,” said the report, “bikeways would be located along landscaped shoulder areas on frontage roads next to freeways and expressways, along shorelines, and on abandoned railroad rights-of-way,” or “along quiet back streets and alleys.” It was a fine idea, but there wasn’t a lot of federal money available. While some bikeways were built, it wasn’t until later decades that “rail-trails” emerged out of the list of suggested bikeway locations as the more successful model.
Remembering some of this forgotten history might help us treasure the success of rail-trails but also remind us of backup plans and alternatives. It’s clear that money and politics can endanger these visions—but also that the power of persistent dreams keeps driving innovative plans for trails.
Rome was plagued by more than snow and ice in February. According to officials with the Rome Street Department, the amount of litter picked up off of the city’s roadways last month was more than twice the average. Department Director Chris Jenkins said litter has been increasing more and more, and his employees are trying their best to catch up. “Rome really does have a huge litter problem,” Jenkins said. “We just do a really good job of picking it up on the right-of-ways and keeping it down as much as possible.”
According to Jenkins, there were 1,060 man hours used to pick up trash in February, including 764 inmate work detail hours and 296 community service hours. That accounted for a total of 1,079 trash bags and 68 tires collected. The department normally collects an average of around 400 bags a month. “That’s just amazing to me,” Jenkins said. At one point during the month, Jenkins said, crews collected 200 bags of trash near the Maple Street area in East Rome. They came back six days later and collected another 60 trash bags full in the same area. “These are the large 38-gallon bags,” Jenkins said. “To go back and pick up 60 more bags … It’s amazing people are throwing that much trash out on the roads.”
Inmate labor from the Floyd County Prison, as well as state community service labor, is utilized to try and offset the amount of work it takes to clean the roadways. The city also has worked with a private company hired to cut the grass on the rights of way inside the city to have them pick up the trash in an area they mow. While Jenkins said they have been able to get creative in how they attack the issue of litter, Kristi Kent, the city’s communications director, hopes residents will help out as well. “Litter is detrimental to our infrastructure and our environment,” Kent said. “It blocks storm drains, flows into water systems and pollutes our environment.” People can also volunteer to pick up litter or take part in a clean-up sponsored by Keep Rome-Floyd Beautiful.
Residents can notify the city of Rome of a litter issue by calling the Public Works Department at 706-236-4585 or using the MyRome app on their smartphone.
Dan Greeson, AKA, Dan the Trail Man, has been combating litter on Rome’s Heritage Trails since his retirement from mortgage banking in 2014. At least twice weekly Dan takes his retrofitted Cannondale bicycle and trailer with a trash can and hits the Heritage Trails to pick up litter that others have left behind. Often, Dan is accompanied by TRED’s Bonner Scholar, Emily Melchior. Dan and Emily have cleaned up everything from Kingfisher Trails to the often used Ridge Ferry Trails. If you would like to volunteer your time to help clean up the trails with Dan and Emily, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Love art? Love trails? Love TRED? Marry all of your loves by attending the opening night reception of “Paint the Trails with Art” at Rome’s ECO Center on Thursday, April 9 from 6:30-8:30 .pm.
Local guest artists and students have donated their artwork in all mediums depicting trails and the outdoors and the art will be priced reasonably for you to take home several one of a kind pieces. A beautiful handmade quilt made from Coosa Valley Cycling Association ride t-shirts will be up for silent auction as well as handmade knives, ceramic crosses, and stationary.
Other artists include: Cave Spring potter John Johnston, painter Siri Selle, photographer Joe Cook, ironworker Charles DeYoung, Rome Public Information Officer Kristi Kent, Karen Jordan, as well as students from local elementary and high schools. Appetizers and drinks will be served and all proceeds from the art will go to TRED.
A sampling of the art that will be for sale:
MAC Knives custom knife-
Doug Walker, Rome News-Tribune
More than two dozen public officials turned out Monday for the first of two workshops this week to consider a possible extension of the Silver Comet Trail from Cedartown to Cave Spring.
Sandra Lindsey, director of the Cave Spring Downtown Development Authority, said she’s excited about the tourism opportunities a connection to the 61.5-mile multi-use trail would bring.
Cedartown Council Chairman Dale Tuck also was enthusiastic about extending the pathway that starts in Smyrna and runs through her city.
“I think this would be a great boost to the city of Cedartown,” she said.
In addition to officials from the two cities, the session at the Cave Spring Public Library drew representatives from the Georgia Department of Transportation, the Rome-Floyd Planning Department and the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission.
Consultant Britt Storck of ALTA Planning and Design presented several potential routes for discussion and said her team would look at the physical sites this week.
“These maps are just a starting point,” she reminded the gathering. “We’re going to study lots of different opportunities, constraints and different alignment options.”
She said there’s a high rate of return on investment in trails, noting that trails in new residential or mixed-use developments increases property values by 10 to 20 percent.
Katelyn DiGioia, GDOT bike and pedestrian engineer, said there is “plenty of evidence” — particularly in major metropolitan areas — that more people are using bikes to commute to work.
“We’re getting better at tracking that,” she said.
The ALTA team will present the results of their work to the same group of stakeholders Friday at 9 a.m.
Storck said the public will have an opportunity to comment about the project during a workshop later this spring on a date yet to be determined. The sessions this week were designed for public officials.
Thanks, Darren, mugging for TRED in his TRED shirt and coffee mug. If you want to do the same, mugs and shirts are on sale at for $10 each at Cycle Therapy.
The Georgia Trail Summit is an awesome event that will take place for the second year in Athens, GA June 4-6. Organizers are focused on the themes of “Building a Culture of Health on Trails in Georgia” and “Trails as a Transportation Solution”. If you are interested in learning more about trails and the many positive benefits of them and how to be involved in your community (hint, TRED), please plan on attending the Summit. Visit Georgia Trail Summit.
This document encapsulates the work of the organizers and is a “clif’s notes” version of why trails, what is the difference between trails and greenways, how are trails funded, trails in Georgia, and other resources.
The weekend forecast — some sunshine and a high close to 60 — is not such good news for the Rome Winter Cyclocross races, scheduled for 10 a.m. Sunday in Ridge Ferry Park. When it comes to cyclocross, a Euro-centric cycling sport, it seems the worse the weather, the better the event. “It’s based in the tradition of bad weather, cold, rain, snow, mud,” said organizer Trey Smith. Smith said a 1.5 mile course will be laid out over the section of the park closest to downtown. The format will be somewhat non-traditional. Instead of one long race, 45 minutes to an hour, the Sunday races will feature three 20-minute heats with the total number of laps deciding the winner. “We’ll run all of the divisions together — men, women, juniors, everybody,” Smith said. “Everybody’s real supportive of each other, so you’ll have pros that will pull up next to juniors and cheer them on and ride with the junior a little bit, so it’s an experience they would never get otherwise.” Smith expects close to 100 riders, with 90 percent of them coming from out of town. He said the early start-time is meant to encourage riders to come in Saturday night and spend some time in downtown Rome.
Proceeds from Sunday’s event, sponsored by Cycle Therapy, will go to TRED, a local nonprofit advocating for the expansion of the trail network across Rome and Floyd County. Registration, $20 per rider, begins at 8:30 a.m. with the racing to start at 10 a.m. Doug Walker, Rome News-Tribune