By LMQC Battle of the Bulge blogger, Alan Sivell, St. Ambrose communications professor, RAGBRAI-er, pizza lover and longtime weight watcher.
I feel safe when I ride my bike in the Quad Cities.
That’s because, since the late 1970s, the cities here have been adding mile and after mile of recreation trails along both sides of the river and along Duck and Crow Creeks.
I can get to a lot of places I need to go without riding on major car-filled thoroughfares.
That’s especially true in Bettendorf, where, since about 2007, the city has been rolling out separated trails – I call them wide sidewalks – throughout the city, whenever a major road project is done.
“The city had been talking about becoming a bikeable community and putting bike trails on the street,” said Decker Ploehn, Bettendorf City Administrator. “But the police chief in me (from 1986-90) didn’t think that was a good idea, especially for kids. So we talked about separated trails.”
You can see the “wide sidewalks” as you drive through Bettendorf. People are always using them, walking, jogging and riding their bikes in safety.
Decker says Bettendorf had committed to creating recreation trails years ago when it connected to Davenport’s Duck Creek and river front trails.
“Once those trails happened, that was the explosion of it,” he said. “A couple of council members said we should start doing this around town.”
That first separated trail ran along Middle Road, and connected the Duck Creek Trail to the Surrey Heights fire station 3 ½ miles north.
“That got us going,” Decker says. “Then we just kind of made it part of our road program. Now it’s built in to road improvements. So when we did Hopewell, we added it. When we did 53rd, we added it. And when we did Forest Grove, most recently, we added it.”
Decker says the trails have been championed by the city council and are now part of the city’s capital plans.
Many people tell him they commute to work on them. And as the years go by, more and more people are using them, including his wife, everyday.
Decker doesn’t commute to work, though, because he says he might never get there. Too many interruptions.
He grew up in Bettendorf and has been a visible public official for nearly 40 years. He says he wouldn’t get too far along the trail before someone would stop to chat.
In addition to expanding the web of these trails throughout Bettendorf, Decker awaits the opening of the 14 ½ foot trail that will be cantilevered along the side of the new I-74 bridge. Bettendorf and Moline are paying for the trail and Bettendorf will handle maintenance.
“That is going to be such a catapulting event, “ Decker says. “I think it will change the way Quad Citians use the trails.”
It might be a couple of years out yet, but I’m already planning my forays across the river. Thanks, Bettendorf (and Moline)!
|Meet Battle of the Bulge blogger, Alan Sivell. Alan is a communications professor at St. Ambrose University and a former reporter for WQAD-TV who has exercised – and dieted – his entire life. Read Alan’s other blog posts.|