Tuesday, December 1

Little Lame Path - Of Alien Destruction or Something

OK, I got a little carried away yesterday, with my post about alien remnants. First, Filigree noted those alien transmitters disguised as rocks looked a lot like some she photographs. She didn't specify the purpose, but didn't deny it had to do with UFO research. THEN, PM Summer observed that the path didn't look over six feet wide. This proves that "you can take the boy out of planning, but you can't take planning out of the boy." Well, PM, that path would only be six feet wide if you had an overactive imagination.

I could see where this might all be leading once crazy people like ChipSeal and Rantwick start speculating, so I'll confess. The path was part of a failed attempt to find a better route to work. Here's the story, and why the path is lame. Not at ALL like the Little Lame Prince.

It all started last summer when one of my co-workers was considering riding his bike from Keller to Fort Worth Alliance Airport. I was cautiously encouraging, noting that some of the roads near the Airport require a certain dedication to cycling (it's no accident I use the Alliance Gateway Freeway for a portion of my ride to work). He noted there were some promising looking paths that he thought might make the ride more pleasant. The map from Google, below, shows one such alternate route.

click on map for larger view

Since I've been known to ride to work on rare occasions, I suggested I might just test ride his route to see what it was like. Privately, I was somewhat dubious because the ride involves a stint as a moving obstruction while westbound on Keller Hicks (there's no way any following motorist can pass due to the EB parking lot unless you get OFF the road entirely) - never a pleasant prospect, followed by zigzagging to follow the path. In contrast, my usual route gives following traffic ample opportunities to pass safely (though illegally), it passes the offices of my concrete guys, there's good scenery along the way, and, as a special treat, roadkill occasionally makes an appearance. Still, I admit I WAS curious about the white blobs that show up on the satellite view of that path.

So I rode, down Keller Hicks, past all the stopped east-bound traffic. Immediately I concluded I would NEVER use the alternate when going west. Why ride a bike if you're stuck in stop and go auto traffic? Then, I got to the trail. It was even narrower than it looked from the satellite view. However, narrow trails don't bother me (wide paths are almost as dangerous as narrow ones), and this one was not bothersome due to being narrow. One advantage of riding a cyclocross bike is you just go offroad if there's a group of joggers or a dog on the path. Nor did the fact that the path started and stopped with little rhyme or reason bother me. Bike paths frequently are afterthoughts and smart riders take advantage of the segments that work while ignoring all the dopey parts. I even appreciated the safety features such as "lack of ramps" where the path came upon streets. I figured it slows down any kids riding that needed to cross the street and I need more practice bunny hopping anyway.

Still, this path seemed DEAD. The alien connection seemed more than just a metaphor. It made me think about why I like riding paths in the first place. There's no question in my mind that MUPS are MUCH more dangerous than riding in the street. This year, my one accident and another close call both happened on a path. But I ride them anyway, as long as they don't result in a significant detour. And I'm not the only one. When I finished up with bicycle school, I got taken back down a MUP to get to my TRE connection.

Then it hit me. I like riding paths because they're ALIVE. The debris that falls from the trees is an affirmation of the advance of nature and the changing seasons. The armadillo threatening to toss me into the bushes is a reminder that the earth is not man's alone. Even the slippery wooden bridge deck is a reminder of how things deteriorate. And the joggers are actually kind of fun to avoid. All this makes them a refreshing change from the ride along the roads. The only armadillo you ever see on a road has flies swarming about it.

But none of this applied to the little lame path. It HAD no trees. It HAD no animals. Even the ponds had virtually no birds. It HAD no bridges. As a result, it HAD no PEOPLE other than an occasional neighbor taking fido out for a morning piddle. All it had were a few big white rocks at one end. At least my usual route's got concrete guys and a tank! I rode the little lame path twice more to make sure I hadn't misjudged it. I thought it might have kids walking to school since there's an elementary school at the end. Nope, no kids use the path either. They use the regular sidewalks along the real streets. Perhaps they're afraid of alien abduction. Myself, a path's got to have more than a bunch of big white rocks at one end to get me interested...

click on photo for larger view - but the larger view's boring, too!


ChipSeal said...

I am crushed!

"Build it", they say, "and they will come!"

Where are the butts on bikes that will flock to separated facilities? The crowds of children and elderly riders, free at last to enjoy bicycling care and car free?

If only Alta Planning and Design had been consulted! If only Bike Friendly Oak Cliff had publicized it!

Poor neglected lame multiple use path! (Sniff)

Steve A said...

Path is too narrow for the "multi" part to apply. It'll take A rider or a pedestrian. Apparently trees were segregated out of the plan. There's also a lame path in my subdivision but it's lame because it doesn't actually go anywhere other than in a circle. There is one other in our sudivision that represents a useful shortcut and I DO use that one on occasion.

Rantwick said...

I'm with you, Steve. The appeal of paths lies in their more natural surroundings. A path with unnatural, Alien surroundings would just be depressing.

Most paths here in London follow the river, which makes them extra nice.

PM Summer said...

It's simply a sidewalk. Is it 5' or just 4' wide? Sadly, that's too narrow for the kind of strolling landscape architects have in mind.

Perhaps we need a "Complete Sidewalks" movement.

That could be a neighborhood of Druids, and those rocks are Stonehenge seedlings.

Steve A said...

ChipSeal - I'm sure the crowds appear as soon as I go around the corner in order to admire the rocks.

Rantwick - Generally rivers trump trees. The best are rivers AND trees or other interesting stuff.

I'm not going back to the path with a tape measure - UNTIL those Stonehenge seedlings get a little more interest. Do Fort Worth Druids sacrifice passing cyclists?

PM Summer said...

Personal experience tells me those rocks are Jaguar sump collectors.

Steve A said...

Scary thought. I will be careful to never drive any of my Jaguars down that "green belt."

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