This is a shameless attempt to save the the most advanced civilization in
history from imminent self destruction by eliminating carbon emission,
dependence on foreign sources of fuel,obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
Cycling accomplishes all those things at once and helps us develop a better
understanding of ourselves, each other and our relationship to the cosmos.

Oh, horse puckey!
I like to ride bikes, have been doing it all my life.
The rest of that crap is just a fringe benefit,
and the blogosphere gives me a chance to share my interior
monologue with virtual rather than imaginary friends.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

One step forward two steps back.

    Despite the optimistic development I noted in my last post, Our local trail system, the KRVT, has been struggling with a dilemma the  past couple of years.  Part of the system was finished on both the west and east end with no route to connect the two parts in the middle of the city.  Obviously there is a lot of real estate to consider and a bit of controversy.  There is a side street which intersects with the west leg and seems a perfect candidate.  Most of it could be made a bike boulevard with a side path added at the west end where there is more auto traffic.   A sign could be installed to direct cyclists to another safe route to the shops and restaurants downtown. That would have provided a straight one mile connection that avoided all the congestion and traffic downtown. 
Whoever is in charge thought it better to take a route they believed would bring cyclists into the retail area.    They made a grand announcement and had a ribbon cutting to celebrate it's completion so I thought I should take an honest look at the accomplishment.  

The new connection begins by crossing Westnedge Ave,  
to access an off street, expanded sidewalk/trail 
where I immediately waited to cross Business Loop I-94 to continue  the "sidewalk/trail"
which winds around between some parking lots and 
crosses the southbound leg of Westnedge called Park St.
After crossing Park St. the "trail" winds again
 around some parking lots and between two office buildings.
before reaching a "crossing" in the middle of the block at Rose St
where we can wait in a median between streams of traffic.
From there it winds between the Museum and Community College campuses 
into the attractively landscaped sidewalk behind
before going back to the street  which leads the trail 
through the middle of the local festival site, 
which makes the trail unusable during an event.
From there we wait to ride back across Business Loop I-94
to reach another protected lane 
adjacent to Business Loop I-94,
across a rail crossing and past Bell's Brewery 
to turn further south on another protected bike lane
and leading to a route 
which squeezes between several parking lots
across another rail siding
between ware houses before
finally reaching the other east ward trail head.
Of course you notice all the retail exposure this accomplished.  There were two bars.
As a somewhat experienced cycle tourist, I have learned to depend upon marked routes and trails to help navigate strange communities safely.  This trail system is part of a network advertised and promoted to guide cyclists safely across the state from Lake Michigan to Lake Huron.  After riding the new connection exposing the "better" part of Kalamazoo authorities wanted to showcase, I wonder how this made sense to anybody.


  1. As someone who advocated for the city to *finally* get this thing done for a decade straight, I'm grateful that they finally did get something done. And as someone who takes a portion of this route every single day to work on my bike, I can honestly say that it has increased the safety of my ride (crossing the highways downtown is hard on the trail, imagine crossing with out it). You missed a few 'retail' exposure spots, including the people's food coop and the radisson and hopcat and water street and food dance which are all within site lines of the new trail. and the trail only is 1 block from the kalamazoo mall at one point (although to your point, that one block is a pedestrian plaza next to the radisson with a 'no bikes' sign, which is hilarious). With that said, I agree with much of your critique. This trail route and design is a mess, and a real testament to how dysfunctional the city leadership is when it comes to building good bike infrastructure. The trail turns 14 times in less than 1 mile! That's absurd. As you pointed out, much of the design of this trail is perplexing at best. Thanks for writing this, I enjoyed it.

    1. Being "within sight" does not mean they are accessible and the PFC gets no more exposure than it ever did since it is at the trailhead. It's really quite a mess.

  2. It looks like this was designed by someone who doesn’t ride a bike but imagines that riding on sidewalks is the safest way to ride.

    1. It's definitely a weird attempt to do something.