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Old September 26th, 2010, 02:12 AM   #1
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Default Influencing trail development and maintenence?

Has anybody got suggestions regarding influencing policy makers and budget managers on making trails more suitable for skating?

I just got back from a week at at a resort community which promotes itself as having and extensive set of trails... but which in reality are nothing more than a collection of streets and country roads (often completely unmarked) augmented by several sections of purpose built recreational trail and wide sections of sidewalk. We found the trails were not very skate friendly and at time down-right dangerous for skaters. I guess the system of trails is good enough for cyclists, runners and walkers but very poor for inlines.

We were at Lake Okoboji (in northwest Iowa) which is a big time resort area in the summer. We were quite disapointed in finding only one section of 3 miles and another distant section 1 mile long to be skateable. When we did a 30 mile loop around one of the lakes on bicycles I was almost run over by a local who came about 2 feet into the (tiny to begin with) "trail" which was actually part of the road. They are making an effort to create new separate wide trails on the outlying perimeters, but these new segments are not connected to each other, despite attempts to make it appear that they are. We resorted to scouting everything by car first.
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Old October 8th, 2010, 04:54 AM   #2
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Here's the only org I know of doing anything http://www.railstotrails.org/index.html
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Old October 9th, 2010, 10:18 PM   #3
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Rails to Trails is a good organization. And a great place to start for support, but also it takes standing up and making a point to be heard by your local gov't re: trails whether new or those that need work.

Rarely, if ever, are skaters brought into design of trail systems. This is pretty much left up to city parks engineers, who rarely get out from behind their desks or actually use trail systems.

In many cities "bicycle advocacy groups" have cropped up to help facilitate paved trails and bike lanes in cities across the usa, working to advise local council on things. But, they also are looking out for their own self-interest, which may not be aligned with the needs of skaters. There is no reason a skate advisory committee could not be present in places with trail systems, advocating for the skater as user of these facilities. That is where it takes someone with time & commitment to step up to plate to see things through.

In our area we have one trail that gives us 20 miles of crummy (at best) pathway, talk about missed opportunity. Needless to say we rarely skate it. It is a hodge-podge of poorly deigned trail and needs repair in many sections. It connects thru a number of local municipalities, and these little cities are suppose to maintain sections in their jurisdiction, but fail to. When asked why they don't, one little burg mayor tells me "there are no funds"....to which I reply HA! There are definitely funds is more a matter of appropriating them. The reality is that they give no consideration for funds to the trial systems, and have zero internet in doing so. They are off spending the cities monies elsewhere -hey, those are our tax dollars, not their personal money jar. This is exactly why we need to stand up for our sport and stop being left out of trail design process/decisions. It's one thing to talk to people to gain their interest in skating sports, it's another to drop what you're doing and scramble to a planning meeting to assure your sport is recognized in park trail systems design & maintenance.

Best we can do: make a point to write to our local gov'ts and request improvements where needed; make point to let them know skaters are a user group of these facilities; form a skater advisory committee in your area, even if it's just you and a few skating buds, you can have a presence and make a difference.
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Old October 10th, 2010, 04:36 AM   #4
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These guys know how to work the system to get skateparks. The same approach would most likely work for a trail. http://www.skatepark.org/
They convince cities to build and maintain skateparks. That is pretty impressive.
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Old March 2nd, 2011, 09:07 PM   #5
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I'm not sure how I would approach it government-wise, but in our city we have a horrible budget for maintenance. We have grants for expansion, but maintenance budget is wretched. So...

Since I was looking for a good excuse to hold a charity skate, I just started talking to our Park organization about helping to raise money for maintenance of the bike trails by doing a 'park n roll' kinda event where we try to get together a ton of skaters and hold a charity-skate event. Easy way to get the park people involved in including skaters in their considerations! They love us now.
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