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Create Bike path from Ditto Landing to Downtown

A municipal bike and walking path connecting the south-east neighborhoods to downtown would be used by thousands of Huntsvilleians. Restaurants, shopping, commuting, and parks would be accessible by bike and walking.

Across the nation, many cities are adding pedestrian trails next to their railroad tracks. And Huntsville has a perfect track for such a trail.

Lets get some of the Federal money set aside for alternative transportation and start designing and planning for such a route. Our track parallels the Memorial Parkway and offers so many interesting stopping points for our citizens.

Riding your bike to a Stars game would be possible. Park Place Mall would be another logical destination. Every business along Memorial Parkway would want this trail.

Such a pedestrian route would give Huntsville instant recognition among the young college new hires looking to settle into a progressive city, offering alternative transportation.

If you ever walk or ride our bike trails, you must vote yes for this idea.

Submitted by 1 year ago

Comments (44)

  1. Pinned Moderator

    There were several articles on "walkability" in The Huntsville Times this morning, and their focus was definitely pedestrians on foot. However, our urban planner did recognize the very point you make, and he talked about the importance of cycling as an alternate mode of transportation. Check out his comments at http://blog.al.com/breaking/2014/02/sidewalk_stories_car-dependent.html#incart_river

    9 months ago
  2. I agree that this is a good idea, but why limit bike trails to SE Huntsville? Why not make this a county-wide project?

    1 year ago
  3. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

    Here's an example of how easy it is to convert an abandoned RR to a trail. http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-county/catonsville/ph-ca-omalley-trail-grant,0,3954212.story

    1 year ago
  4. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

    If the N-S Railroad line were converted to Rail and Trail, all the businesses along the route would benefit from new sales opportunities. So I started counting the business which are less then 1/2 mile to the Rail & trail, and my count climbed into the hundreds of business. From south Huntsville, WalMart to the depot in downtown, there are more than 500 small and large business in proximity to the future trail.

    The mild grade next to the railroad is perfect for family bikers not conditioned for the many hills of Huntsville. So, everyone in Huntsville, not just the spandex crowd of bikers would use this trail.

    We would see grandmas and grandpas shopping by bike. Kids would ride their bikes to the movies. Dads and Moms would bike commute to work along the parkway.

    I will leave you with this story of a family in the UK.

    http://www.britishcycling.org.uk/commuting/article/com20131014-travel-Bike-commuting--Life-after-the-school-run-0

    Huntsville doesn't have to be a town where auto commuting is the only option for transportation.

    1 year ago
  5. Moderator

    We've gotten a LOT of feedback in support of this notion, and as a planner, I think it's a very very good idea... however, it's my understanding that the L&N line is not actually abandoned. There are perhaps fewer than a half dozen runs made on it per week, but it's utilized nonetheless. Cohabitating with active rail is an entirely different set of challenges, though certainly not insurmountable (see the Atlanta BeltLine regarding how to plan for rail AND trails together).

    My personal vision is one of a broad, safe and functional bike and greenway network linking every corner of the City, and I think the L&N piece would be a cornerstone. it's good for health, good for transportation, and good for the economy.

    1 year ago
  6. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

    Dennis, Thanks for your comments. It's exciting that Rail-and-Trails is on HSV's radar.

    Combining the two modes would be great for all cyclists.

    Last week I read the local Al.com story about bike safety. It was amazing and scary to read

    the many auto drivers negative comments. It is clear, from automobile comments, that bikes don't belong sharing the lane with autos. Bikers don't have any choice, but our city leaders do. It takes vision and commitment to make cycling safer. New bike friendly designs are a must for our future.

    Here's a short video from a Netherlander who is an expert in bike facilities. Cities around the world invite Markenlei to review their bike infrastructure for improvements. In this link he's in Sydney Australia.

    At 2:40 in the video Markenlei gets excited when he finds their separated bike lanes. Finally he has something positive to write about. Check out his other videos too. There is hope for Huntsville. We are significantly better then Alabama's other large cities, but we pale in comparison to other cities in the US and abroad.

    1 year ago
  7. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

    I was thinking a Kick Starter Campaign to start a funding stream might be a good thing for a Rain-And-Trail project next to all those business along the parkway. It's possible it would attract some deep pocket donors as well as family contributors. Then take the Kickstarter funds, add City, State and Federal dollars and pretty soon, we have enough funds to make a rail-and-trail a reality.

    The following link is a different bike Kickstarter video, truly inspiring.

    1 year ago
  8. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

    Cyclist utopia is in the city of Groningen NL.

    http://vimeo.com/76207227# I love seeing videos about their infrastructure.

    1 year ago
  9. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

    Just to the North of Groningen, is the city of Copenhagen Denmark. These cities like to brag about their bike friendly culture. I'm better then you. Ha Ha. In reality, both cities are amazing. In 2010 Copenhagen hosted a bike infrastructure conference where 1000 bike advocates from all parts of the world learned of these amazing bike systems. Huntsville should send one of our planners to this convention in the future. For the future of Huntsville.

    1 year ago
  10. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

    The people of Minneapolis have a fantastic Rail-Trail. Everyone uses it and it's revitalized the city. The bike culture is amazing and once you experience it, you'll want this for Huntsville too. On a bike on a trail, through the city, you can see so much more. You miss so much in a car.

    1 year ago
  11. Moderator

    I have a couple of friends living in Holland, and they talk about the bike and rail culture all the time (they also talk about all the weight they've lost). I understand that in Copenhagen, cycling has proliferated to the point that bike parking has become a premium.

    What a problem to have...

    1 year ago
  12. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

    This is a video showing Copenhagens unique bicycle culture.

    A monumental motion of everyday people transporting themselves from A to B by pure pedal power.

    -Each day 37% of everybody in Copenhagen arrives at work or education by bicycle.

    -25% of all families with two kids in the city own a cargo bike.

    -And the 519,000 inner city copenhageners own 560,000 bicycles!

    Huntsvillians can achieve some of this success but first we must have safe avenues to ride. Protected bike lanes on the arterial routes through the city. Adding a bike path next to our N-S railroad would be a huge addition to our infrastructure. Watch this video and tell me it doesn't excite you just a little.

    1 year ago
  13. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

    Here's an interesting link about business affects of bicycle related activities.

    In Oregon, bicycle-related tourism contributed $400 million a year to their economy — or $1.2 million per day. Read about it here. http://www.registerguard.com/rg/news/local/30634157-75/program-oregon-tourism-bike-travel.html.csp

    Also, I just read about a brand new rail-trail near Oxford Mississippi. Just opened about two weeks ago. The wife and are loading up our bikes next week and we're going to ride all 50+ miles of it. We're going to stay in one of their local hotels eating out at their restaurants too. Bicycle business is a real opportunity lost for Huntsville.

    1 year ago
  14. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

    From the Netherlands, elderly cyclists enjoy the benefits of cycling to everyday activities too. Their safety and accident rates are monitored as well. Check out this video of city council persons riding with a group of elderly as they critique the cycling infrastructure. I am so jealous of their cycle structure.

    1 year ago
  15. What a fun thread! I think Huntsville is the right place to become a cyclist utopia of the South. Good luck! Exciting to think of the future.

    1 year ago
  16. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

    I hate it when we change our clocks and the evening gets dark so quick. It reduces my safe cycle time. So you'd think the Dutch would REALLY hate because of their high latitude. But cycling in the dark there is not a problem because of their safe cycle paths. Here's another fun video

    1 year ago
  17. Whatever happens... however it happens, it would be very easy to sell mile markers "in honor of" or as advertising. The right to name a mile after a loved one could have a window of time (marker might be good for 3, 5 or 10 years) so that it continues to generate money for maintenance.

    1 year ago
  18. It would be nice to access the Jones Valley Bend Shopping area and the new Lendon by golf cart since there are two large golf courses in the area.

    1 year ago
  19. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

    In Buffalo NY, a family of 6 have transitioned completely to riding bikes. Even in the cold weather of Buffalo, biking, when supported by the bike infrastructure can be an option for large families. http://www.buffalonews.com/life-arts/have-bike-will-travel-20131110

    Check out the video.

    1 year ago
  20. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

    Watch this and you get to visit Brisbane Australia. Our videographer is from Holland so he has high standards. But even Brisbane has some excellent bike paths.

    When he discusses their river bike trail, which would take a rider directly into town, I couldn't help but imagine that if Huntsville's rail line were to allow a bike trail next to it, how wonderful that would be.

    1 year ago
  21. I LOVE this idea! A bike path with access to all that is on the parkway would be GREAT!

    1 year ago
    1. Tie the path to the railroad line? Near the Parkway, near businesses. Already runs north and south, and possibly more scenic than one running along the actual Parkway? Also gets you away from the ever-present vehicle exhaust.

      Adjacent property?

      9 months ago
  22. I definetly think huntsville should keep a watchful eye on ways to repurpose abandoned railroads and utility paths. with the community we have in HSV a rails to trails solution would be a major draw

    1 year ago
  23. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

    Here's a vision from Portland Oregon. Not only do they have the most bicycle commuters, but they have the most bike to school kids too. So visit Portland Oregon vicariously. Great video about making and keeping safe streets for school transportation. If you have young kids in elementary school, you're going to be a little jealous of this neighborhood. http://vimeo.com/78517554#

    1 year ago
  24. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

    If you're watching the Dutch, you know they have excellent Bike infrastructure.

    Safe bike routes will invite more bike riders. I rode my bike 3500 miles last year, much of that in the company of my wife. I can tell you that if it wasn't for the Aldridge Creek Greenway, we wouldn't be cycling at all. Creating more bike paths that connect to distant parts of town will increase our populations use of bikes. We will be healthier and it save money as well.

    1 year ago
  25. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

    I just love watching these Netherlands cycling videos. It's so different then cycling in the US where we mix with autos here. Of course I'm wanting a system of bike lanes on Huntsville Arterial Roads, places where Moms and Kids and Granddads can ride across town. A rail-trail connecting all our Memorial Parkway businesses would be a fantastic resource for Huntsville.

    1 year ago
  26. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

    In the Netherlands, even Santa arrives at city festivities by bicycle.

    1 year ago
  27. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

    Recently we are told about a plan to increase our sales tax by 1%. How horrible. For roads no less. How horrible. But, if that one percent would be used for bike infrastructure, I'd have another opinion. Even if just a portion of that tax were used for bike infrastructure, I'd have a different opinion. This video is a simple discussion about transportation desires and published by TED.

    11 months ago
  28. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

    In 1972 the children of Amsterdam (with the help of some adult film crews) created a campaign to reduce the auto traffic in their neighborhoods. Funny to see all those old hair styles and automobiles. The children and families want more play space for the kids. But car parking and traffic was making living in these densely populated streets impossible. Their campaigning for calmer streets eventually was successful, but as this video shows, it took some serious protesting.

    11 months ago
  29. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

    NY City is starting to look a lot like the Netherlands! It makes me happy to see so many bike commuters. It goes to show, if you build bike infrastructure that appears safe for the average rider, then you will see riders. http://www.streetfilms.org/nyc-rush-hour-bike-commute/

    11 months ago
  30. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

    Regarding the 1% extra sales tax. Please use some of that money to improve our bike infrastructure. Send our city Planner/Designer to the Netherlands for a study tour of bike friendly design. Then, lets use some of that money to improve our bikeways. And extend our current bike trails to completely crisscross the city. http://www.streetfilms.org/from-the-netherlands-to-america-translating-the-worlds-best-bikeway-designs/

    11 months ago
  31. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

    http://www.peopleforbikes.org/blog/entry/why-bike-sharing-benefits-everyone-even-if-you-already-own-a-bike

    This article is eye opening. Next time you're in a big city, consider taking a Bike Share Bike for a spin. Even Nashville has them.

    10 months ago
  32. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

    I spotted this video of the a bike trail in suburbs of Portland Oregon. It runs along the Columbian River.

    It's pretty awesome. It goes to show, that with the right kind of leadership, a community can make their environment a beautiful place. I'm hoping that with the new 1% sales tax, levied against all our purchases, we will get more dedicated bike paths along with those road improvements.

    10 months ago
  33. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

    Last fall the city sponsored a Pop-Up-Park weekend. Here's a variation on that theme. Create a Pop-Up Bike Lane. That's what this bicycle group in Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition did last year. Here's the video link.

    Can you imagine what the streets would look like, filled with entire families. There are so many examples out there about how to create safe biking infrastructure.

    10 months ago
  34. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

    It's winter in Nijmegen Netherlands, but look how many cyclist, and cycle families are out and about. Also, please note the beautiful cycle bridge and paved bike infrastructure. If we build it, we will use it.

    9 months ago
  35. Can this trail be tied to property along the railroad tracks? Closer to business, already a direct route north to south.

    9 months ago
  36. I'm not sure we have the budget for this but we need to expand the bike trail idea and not just in the city. Roads need to have shoulders on them. Not all bike paths need to be paved but bicyclists don't have any room on roads that were never intended for neighborhood buildup that has been happening in Madison county. There needs to be a dedicated crew of workers whose sole job is to move drainage ditches away from the road edge. A 6 to 8 foot area would allow for a 4 foot bike lane. If we had a proper development planning board here housing developers would have sprung for the road improvement before the neighborhoods were allowed to be built. Now we will have to use eminent domain along with a Planning Board and a legal team.

    9 months ago
  37. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

    I was saddened this morning to read the paper about connected sidewalks. Not a single word was mentioned about bikeability of our streets and connected bike routes. Sidewalks are great, but biking/walking separated paths are the direction we need to go. In contrast, here is Atlanta's most recent promotion of their bike infrastructure. It's a heart warming glimpse into a great place to live. If Huntsville really want's to attract new business's, we need to make our streets livable. When I get home from work, the first thing I do is get on my bike.

    9 months ago
  38. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

    Inspiring story from Davis California. It's so inspiring to see cities adopting and promoting bike transportation.

    9 months ago
  39. In cities with mature, evolved greenways and paths, real estate surrounding the greenways has been developed into multi-use. People live, work and play via these pathways.

    Condos and apartments along the paths; retail, restaurants, entertainment venues, corporate offices, etc.

    Real estate values rise - appropriately - along with desirability. Tax revenues increase.

    Residents bike or walk to work and shopping, etc. Fewer cars polluting or wearing on the road system.

    Are you getting the vision I'm laying out here?

    9 months ago
    1. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

      Cindi,

      You touched on all the good points of connected paths and bike trails. Getting away from the noise, the smell and danger of traffic can all be solved via connected greenways. When I ride on Aldridge Creek trail, I see so many bikers, it's amazing. Even during the recent snow their were walkers enjoying the morning. Get away from the trail and the bikers disappear. Your points about business, retail and other revenue advantages are not lost on me either.

      9 months ago
  40. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

    This is a neat story from the city of Piedmont Alabama. It's about how a small town found the money to fun a Rail-Trail on an old abandoned railroad running through their town. If Huntsville were to add a Rail_and_Trail to our existing Memorial Parkway, a similar story would be told for our citizens. http://annistonstar.com/view/full_story/24656277/article-State-officials-hold-cycling-summit-in-Huntsville?instance=top_center_featured

    8 months ago
  41. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/getting-more-bicyclists-on-the-road/

    This article finally answers the question, "What do women Want". Because if you can figure out how to ease the fears of our women population, your town will see an increase in bike ridership. If we were to add a trail next to the L&N railroad spur, it would connect hundreds of Huntsville businesses and thousands of homes. We would see our bike ridership double and triple.

    8 months ago
  42. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

    Walking, biking trail proposed next to high-speed train from Miami to Orlando. This is exactly what I originally proposed in this thread. Except it should be in Huntsville. A Rail with Trail. Florida is putting trails everywhere. They really know how to promote their great outdoors.

    http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/palm-beach/fl-all-aboard-florida-rail-trail-20140329,0,2197129.story

    7 months ago

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    1 year ago