I’ve talked about our abandoned rail corridors that we use around Lincoln, but what about the other trails? Many, but not all of our trails are mentioned at http://lincoln.ne.gov/city/parksfacilities/trails/ if you want to know a little more.
The Billy Wolff, Bison, Salt Creek Levee, and Tierra Williamsburg trails mostly follow greenbelts along waterways. Others, like the Boosalis, Old Cheney, Superior, First Street, and 84th Street trails follow major roadways. Other, smaller trails form connections and open up parkland to cycling, and more are being planned.
The Billy Wolff is Lincoln’s oldest trail, constructed in 1978. Billy Wolff was a longtime downtown bike shop owner, which was located between 18th and 19th streets on the south side of “O” St.. My father bought a bicycle from him in 1936, a white Excelsior that cost $50.00, quite a sum for a 12 year-old in those days. He went on to win one of the informal bike races sponsored by a local grocer in Eagle with that bike. John Dietrich is another local bike shop owner and trail advocate that had a trail named after him in 1985.
One can’t get everywhere by trail however, and sidewalks are often inappropriate, being narrower and used by pedestrians. Some cities even prohibit those over 13 years of age from riding on a sidewalk, but not Lincoln. Sidewalks can also be dangerous, containing many motorist-cyclist conflict points, as well as obstacles and dangerously unlevel concrete. Motorists often don’t notice cyclists on sidewalks since they’re not in their line of sight. That’s another reason why we need a Lincoln Bike Plan that will make Complete Streets a reality. With the Complete Streets policy “communities direct transportation planners and engineers to routinely design and operate the right of way to enable safe access for all users.” Newer areas of Lincoln are often incorporating trails and side paths, such as Yankee Hill from 91st St to 70th, but we still need to get to the trails, and that means using the streets.
“Complete Streets are public and private streets that include some combination of appropriate infrastructure as determined by the surrounding context, that accommodate all modes of transportation, including private vehicles, public transportation, walking, and bicycling.”
It seems some few motorists don’t think bicycles belong on streets though, and exhibit anti-social behavior towards us. This includes passing too closely, yelling, throwing things, and “rolling coal”, modifying their vehicles to spew black exhaust when next to a cyclist. Getting them to understand that we have a right to safely use the streets too, will take some effort and education.