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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Forest Park trail's a mess

Longtime reader Jack Painter asked me to spread the word about less-than-suitable conditions on the bicycle trail in Forest Park, St. Louis' largest city park.

"Forest Park is the jewel of St Louis as you probably know," Jack says. "The bike path there is highly used by cyclists, joggers, pedestrians, dog walkers and parents pushing their children in carts. Riding on it again yesterday (Wednesday), the path in this area still has mud and the grass alongside is a mess."

The problem area, Jack says, is a 70 to 100-yard section of the trail along Lindell Boulevard near the Missouri History Museum. As of Wednesday, he says the path still is covered with mud but it is not thick and mostly dry.

Jack also noted that the Riverfront Times STLOG blog picked up on the story. A picture that accompanies that blog shows the aftermath of the St. Louis Brewers Heritage Festival, held in Forest Park over the weekend. "Try pedaling through that and staying clean for that Monday-morning meeting," the author noted.

Jack says the trucks tore up the soil (as can be seen in the picture) on both sides of the path. The soil is very wet because of the record rainfall the St. Louis area has had in the first 4 1/2 months of 2008. Jack also contends there are many other places in the park to hold the festival which would allow trucks to delver the beer without using a bike path and that the path was not built to handle the weight of trucks and was just repaved in the last two years.

Other problems persist on the path in Forest Park, Jack contends: "On weekends when the lots that charge for parking fill up along with the free parking spaces, vehicles are parked on the bike paths even behind the Art Museum. I spoke with one of the security guards in the parking lot. He said that this occurs every busy weekend and the police have been informed. In biking around for one hour, I was unable to find an officer even though they have an equestrian station located in the park.

"Bike paths are great for recreational cyclists but in this case are also useful for commuters as the path parallels Lindell Blvd. and extends the full length of the park on the north side. But the message is clear, bike paths are given too little consideration. Local advocates favor (vehiclular cycling) and therefore bike paths, especially bike lanes, are also given minimal consideration."

Jack hopes, and I do as well, that the path is cleaned up by Friday morning, which a CBS News crew will be covering St. Louis' Bike to Work Day celebration. The last thing Trailnet and other organizers need is images of bicyclists trying to navigate a paved bike trail covered with mud.

Given the soil conditions, I can understand why beer festival organizers believed they needed to use the trail to set up booths. But as an event organizer myself, I am a firm believer that you need to leave the facilities in as good shape -- if not better -- than you found them. The mud on the trail creates an unsafe condition for cyclists and creates an inconvenience for other trail users.

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Roger 1 comments links to this post 12:07 PM

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Most cities prefer to prosper, does St Louis?
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