Recommendations for Planners & Trailbuilders
Scenic Route: cycle-friendly parks provide good alternative routes to busy streets (Photo: WaveBreaker on flickr)
Research has shown that people go out of their way to use bike infrastructure, concluding that bike lanes, bike routes and other cycling facilities really do encourage people to get out of their cars and steer their bikes away from busy thoroughfares that aren't designed to accommodate them.
It makes sense. The majority of people who cycle really enjoy it. So why not take a scenic route if time permits?
Natural- and man-made structures including oceans, lakes, rivers and hydro corridors near urban centers provide opportunities to help ease automotive traffic congestion. Municipal planners should develop alternative commuter routes and recreational trails for both cyclists and pedestrians to help the population keep fit, have safer routes to school and work and to re-discover their community.
Leverage Bodies of Water for Trailbuilding
Go With The Flow: a clearly-marked bidirectional path reduces accident risk (Photo: Bike by the Sea on flickr)
Historically, many towns and cities were established and developed adjacent to rivers, lakes, oceans
and other bodies of water. Such urban population centres would do well to implement or enhance cycle paths and facilities along these bodies of water for recreational and commuter use.
Wide, smoothly-paved, clearly-marked and well-maintained multi-use paths and dedicated bike boulevards, whether along a riverbank, beach or seawall, can be a core part of a bike plan and bicycle network, helping to provide faster access to urban centres for cycling commuters.
Build Bike Paths Along Hydro Corridors
Access to Power: hydro corridors provide great opportunities for building bikeways (Photo: torontocat.com)
This section is under development.
Trackbeds to Trails
A New Greenway? The remnants of a railroad trackbed is a potential bike route (Photo: jackgrover45 on flickr)
The network of a 'by-gone age', many railway tracks that branched out in all directions from cities and towns have long fallen into disuse. Often the rails and ties also removed, salvaged for other purposes, leaving only the trackbeds.
In such cases, where the likelihood that railway tracks will be re-laid for restored passenger or freight rail service is small, trackbeds should be converted into gravelled or, better yet, paved trails for use by cyclists as well as joggers and pedestrians as so called greenways.
Rails to Trails
Many cycling advocates demand that abandoned rails should be removed and the routes paved over or gravelled to provide cycle paths for commuting and recreation. But the so-called rails-to-trails lobby makes a somewhat controversal arguement in the public transportation debate. Should not more be invested in restoring rail lines to expand rail networks for greater passenger rail and freight transport use?
Ripping up rail ties prevents the re-establishment of privately run regional rail companies providing non-car connections to isolated communities. Once land usage is re-zoned from rail network corridors to recreational usage and tracks are ripped up, if some years later, there is a determined need for rail usage, it is next to impossible to have the land re-zoned to its previous usage for rail.
Re-Zone or Railbank? Abandoned rail lines are potential long distance bike routes (Photo: J. Boostrom)
Rail lines in urban areas that are converted to bike trails should be railbanked to account for future growth and possible usage by rail operators. Trail projects should only be assessed on a case-by-case basis and only then proceed after a thorough examination of all possible rail scenarios has been completed.
With rail travel being the greener alternative to the automobile and airplane, the possibility of restoring rail service after environment assessments have occurred should always take priority over conversion to cycling trails, unpaved or paved.
The rails-to-trails approach tends to re-inforce the recreational perception of cycling (especially in North America where cycling has long been viewed as a recreational sport) and may downplay the utility cycling aspects if rail lines are in outlying areas.
Rails with Trails
Linear Park: a bike path between an active railway line and a divided highway (Photo: Richard Drdul on flickr)
Of course, the approach to zoning does not need to be 'an either or' scenario. Rail lines and bike routes can happily co-exist. Rail tracks that can again carry passengers and freight should be brought back into use (if necessary after privatization if public funding does not exist). Bike paths could be built as intermodal feeders to rail stations.
Clearly Designate Shared-Use Paths As Such
Multi-Use: surfacing or signs remind cyclists, joggers & pedestrians of each other (Photo dpatricklewis on flickr)
Casual cyclists can easily maintain cruising speeds of 20-40 km/h and should therefore be kept separated from pedestrians and joggers on park paths.
Painted lane markers or physically segregated paths or signs should be posted to remind all users of the others. In central Europe the rule of thumb for bike trail signposting is 1 km = 6 signs.
parks, recreation, nature, outdoor space, zoning, pedestrians, joggers, cyclists, multi-use paths, bikeways, greenway, sustainable trailbuilding, trail building, track bed, trackbed,