Friday, January 19, 2007

Pedestrian Bridge?

Janelle Rettig was kind enough to share some information about possible trail completion for the Iowa River Trail. She writes:

"The City of Iowa is working on it's budget for the FY '08 budget year. For
the past several years the Parks and Rec. Commission has recommended a
pedestrian bridge over the Iowa River Connecting the Iowa River Trail to the
Peninsula. That bridge is the # 1 recommendation by the commission in order to
make it easier for people to reach the dog park, the frisbee golf course, as
well as reaching biking/hiking trails like the Water Works trail and Dubuque
Street Trail. It also will be a direct link for pedestrian traffic to and from
Iowa City for residents of the peninsula."

There has been some resistence to this within the council, which is why it still has not been approved. Now is the time to voice your opinion about it. It is so easy to email councilmembers. One email address sends the message to each individual councilmember:

The following is the letter I sent to City Council. Feel free to use it to write your own.

Dear Councilmember,

I am writing to voice my support of the Parks and Rec Commission recommendation of a pedestrian bridge over the Iowa River to connect the Peninsula Neighborhood to the Iowa River Trail. It is my view the Peninsula Neighborhood is an example of poor city planning, no matter what awards it may win. There are no amenities within the neighborhood, such as a grocery store, and the expected mode of transportation of residents is a car. People who live in this neighborhood are encouraged, by design, to drive to areas where their needs can be met. Do we have to make all the mistakes cities like Chicago have already made before we learn something? We need planning that includes all modes of transportation, including foot and bicycle traffic.

The recommended footbridge would also complete a serious gap in the Iowa River Trail. We need trails that make sense in order for people to use them, and with the current design pedestrians and cyclists must go far out of the way to get to the north end of the trail, which could function more efficiently as a commuter trail as it connects to the North Dubuque Trail.

I am a serious cyclist, coordinator of the Bike Library, member of the Bike to Work Week Committee, as well as someone who is concerned with a healthy community and natural environment. I occasionally ride the trails around the Peninsula Neighborhood, and I would ride them with more frequency if they were less fragmented.

In short I support the recommended pedestrian bridge over the Iowa River to connect the Peninsula Neighborhood to the Iowa River Trail.

Thank you for your time.

Kind regards,
Cody Gieselman

Sorry this image is so tiny, but you can get the idea. The red arrow is pointing to the pedestrian bridge that connects to Coralville just past the dog park. I don't know where exactly the Parks & Rec Commission recommended the bridge to be built, but I imagine it would be somewhere past City Park, the green blob farthest right along the river. The Peninsula Neighborhood is the green blob farthest left along the river, near the red arrow.

The Water Works Trail and the North Dubuque Trail are off this map, but if you know the area you'll know that once you're past Foster Rd. (the tiny grey and green line above City Park), you can take trails to Coralville or North Liberty. (None of them, of course, are direct enough to be practical commuter routes, but hopefully we're learning.)

Trails aren't always necessary for cyclists and pedestrians, so if we're going to have them, they need to be properly designed. Not loopy and fragmented. I think this particular pedestrian bridge will help mend this set of trails.

(Once built, trails also need to be maintained. Sheet ice makes trail use a dangerous challenge. But, one step at a time.)

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