Monday, March 30, 2009

Sunday Ride #6: New Gypsum Creek path

Veloroute map. I took my usual commute route to reach the eastern end of the route, took the new route as indicated (included here is my turn north along the Canal Route up to Mt. Vernon), then returned home via my commute route.

Greetings, all. It appears that I can resume something that resembles regular blogging here. Thanks again for the kind wishes sent the Mrs.'s way.

A couple of Saturdays ago, when it looked like spring had arrived, I thought I'd check out the new bike path I'd written about in my previous post. There is good and not-so-good to report.

The good: The path proper is concrete and is indeed complete from George Washington to Wassall. Being so new, it's of course in great shape. There are also places for benches along the path, and it appears the city will be planting some trees in a couple of places. From the path's western terminus at Wassall, it's a short one-block ride down Wassall to the pedestrian bridge that crosses I-135. Moreover, on the day I rode there, the city is putting a new, wider sidewalk in at the intersection of Pawnee and Minneapolis, which will make crossing Pawnee easier and safer. My teaching schedule this spring isn't conducive to bike-commuting (I have late classes each night), but some weekend I plan to take this new route to see how it might fare as part of my commute-route in terms of distance and time.

The not-so-good: as I have noted before about the Canal Route, this new stretch, naturally wend-y by nature because it follows the creek, nevertheless makes some bizarre arbitrary bends on perfectly-flat land. Thus, at times it created in me the sense of not covering much ground. Meanwhile, the pedestrian bridge seems designed to discourage cyclists from riding across it: I suppose one could ascend the ramps while astride one's bike, but they are too steep and turn too abruptly to descend safely. True, to cross the bridge on foot takes just a couple of minutes, but it's that disruption of getting off and then getting on again that strikes me as irritating.

The bad: One word--Plainview. It is no secret to most Wichitans that Plainview is a rough part of town; and, given that the entirety of this new path runs along that neighborhood's southern boundary, sometimes right along the houses' (often unfenced) property lines, riders are hereby alerted to this. On my ride, I saw a couple of pit bulls staked out on chains in backyards--I saw them because, as I said, some of these yards aren't fenced. Granted, their chains were short enough to prevent them from reaching the path, and I apparently was too boring to them to cause them to do much more than bark a couple of times at me; but it's not as though there are signs warning cyclists or pedestrians about all this. It may be that there are plans to install fencing or plant hedges along the route, but I saw nothing that would indicate such a thing. In short: it's a bit dicey down there, even in the daytime, and you need to know this in advance. All that said, though, the city is to be commended for building a path along that route. As I noted in the earlier post, bike commuters on the south side of town heading to the McConnell area should find this route to be useful to them, and it also provides a safe bike route for kids who attend the two schools the path passes. Most important of all, whether intentionally or not and slalom-y curves aside, it argues against the assumption most people (and city-planners) have of cycling as a middle-class recreational activity.

As my first commenter notes on the previous post, there are still more paths to come for the south side, most notably a path (construction to begin this summer) that will link the Arkansas River path's southern terminus at Garvey Park with this same just-completed new path. Good. But now: about that much-needed east-west route through the city's center . . .


rebmoti said...

Welcome bank, from (apparently) your one and only feedburner reader. It's an honor. I read many blogs, but there are few that I am happier seeing a new post on than yours.

John B. said...

Wow--what a welcome back! It's already a good feeling to be up and around in a virtual sense, but your kind words make it even better.

Anonymous said...

John, you might want to coordinate with the Bike and Ped representative of the WAMPO project selection committee, they might have some more insight about new developments.