Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Stimulate This! The Most Kick Ass Bike Path Ever vs Cincinnati East End High Speed Rail

If you watch the video from Cincinnati’s WCPO, the state of Ohio wants to use Stimulus money to increase economic development via putting a high speed train and station along the last sliver of Cincinnati’s remaining scenic Ohio Riverfront. The East End stretch between the neighborhood of Columbia Tusculum and Downtown is in transition, home to an increasing number of new homes, rehabbed historic buildings, a couple of very nice parks, community centers and Columbia Square. This is the same stretch of tracks that ultimately may be the recreation path linking the Little Miami Scenic Trail from Newtown to Lunken Airport and Downtown. The same trail that makes Loveland Ohio a suburban jewel where shops, restaurants, festivals, new homes and rehabbed historic buildings are fed by rollerbladers, mommy joggers, bikers, and romantic hand holding walkers out for a quiet stroll after dinner. I’m so glad East Enders were on it like Blue Bonnet and didn’t miss a beat voicing the obvious fact that a big fast noisy train would make people run from the East End, Columbia Tusculum and lower Mount Adams faster than the great flood.

I want to see those last few Riverside Drive empty lots fill up with new homes, the historic East End homes of the 1800’s come to new life, new business and restaurants sprout in Columbia Tusculum and aged Riverside Drive storefronts, the property tax base increase, bike or walk to the park with family and friends, hold hands with my wife and go for a scenic Ohio River vista filled walk after a nice dinner out in Columbia Tusculum. Let’s scrap that whole goofy train nonsense and concentrate on what makes great neighborhoods great: being a nice place to live. However, the funny thing is that when government thinks of using stimulus money for infrastructure projects it seems like it has to be a gargantuan amount of cash and proportion. A bike path? That’s like federal pocket change, nowhere near the kind of shocking dollar amounts needed for spending stimulus money. If that’s the case, I propose a stimulus money worthy recreational path, in essence THE MOST KICK ASS BIKE PATH EVER.

First off THE MOST KICK ASS BIKE PATH EVER would incorporate scenes and views of all the places I love to ride. As a canvas, we already have a view of the Ohio River and rolling hills of the entire valley. To put that stimulus money to good use, I propose making that view even better by shipping in a couple groves of Colorado Aspen trees, a few stands of fragrant tall pine, and whatever makes the Pink Beds in North Carolina’s Pisgah national forest so beautiful.

Stimulus money is big, and so are State Park Country Club-esque lodges that rent a few rooms, offer incredible views, and house free public amenities like; showers, water bottle filling stations, air pumps, a bike shop, bike lockers, racks, picnic tables, and horseshoe pits. Like the lodge at Hueston Woods State Park, THE MOST KICK ASS BIKE PATH EVER would have one near Schmidt fields that caters to the path users, softball fans and marina users. Give it a cool local name like Queen City Cottage.

Scattered with authentic mining shacks and water towers to explore, one of my favorite rides is the Bankers Tank loop in Breckenridge. THE MOST KICK ASS BIKE PATH EVER would have the Cincinnati version, maybe what appears to be an abandoned riverboat workshop turned into a coffee/bike/smoothie stand. That Fuel Coffee shop on Riverside would be perfect. Even with the lodge, boutique shops, and imported landscaping, I don’t think I'm even close to spending a stimulus worthy amount yet.

Looking back on all my vacation experiences, the best bike paths always have a long wooden suspension bridge over a quaint creek and cool wooden trail signs that tell you how far the nearest town center is or what is in the distance of the beautiful Ohio River vista. THE MOST KICK ASS BIKE PATH EVER would have signs carved in the shape of paddle wheels that say “Mount Lookout Square 1 mile” and “Dayton KY founded in 18-blah blah blah.” And if there’s a few million left over, let’s put a the most kick ass ferry ever between Columbia Tusculum and Dayton, KY so riders from both sides of the river can access THE MOST KICK ASS BIKE PATH EVER.

Most bike paths are wide enough for one, maybe two bikes wide in each direction. THE MOST KICK ASS BIKE PATH EVER would have at least three lanes in each direction and dedicated lanes for roller bladders, mommy joggers and possibly an adjacent dirt or gravel path for dog walkers. In addition, there would be an express lane down the center for racer types and those middle-of-the-day fast retired guys on triathlon bikes so they can crush their daily century. At dedicated points there’d be turn outs to stop and chat with friends complete with bike racks and comfortable benches. If there are still a few pennies of stimulus left, I want on and off ramps.

Like the people downtown that wear cute kerchiefs and ascots and help with directions, THE MOST KICK ASS BIKE PATH EVER would have ambassadors traveling the path with maps, bus & event schedules spare inner tubes, Kleenex, first aid, air, tools, Clif Bars and Gatorade. Like the bike path version of the CVS van on the freeway. Now that’s serving the community.

I don’t know what an 8-10 foot wide five mile stretch of blacktop costs, but I’m positive the costs are smaller and the benefits way larger than putting a high speed train along a beautiful riverfront. Last time I checked THE MOST KICK ASS TRAIN STATION EVER is still just west of downtown Cincinnati. Train train go away.

For more on the Ohio River Trail click here. For what it's worth, an inch of bike path costs $15.78 and you can purchase an inch by clicking here. Thanks to Building Cincinnati blog readers for visiting and thanks for the link Kevin.


Anonymous said...

This rail corridor is still active and will not be converted into a bike/walking trail any time soon. Just because a rail line is only sporadiclly used doesn't mean it's abandoned.

Joe Biker said...

There's a difference between active and appearing active. Three train cars make thier way down the tracks about once every week or two only to return within an hour. Seems like the railroad is just logging miles on the tracks to make them appear active. Still not a very good use of a corridor along a very scenic part of Cincinnati.