EDITORIAL: Communities should continue to enhance bike trails

2013-07-10T13:01:00Z EDITORIAL: Communities should continue to enhance bike trails nwitimes.com
July 10, 2013 1:01 pm

Resting in the shadow of Chicago, with its many recreational amenities, it's easy for people in the region to assume we don't have much to do here in Northwest Indiana.

But a project taking shape in Crown Point is a reminder of the great recreational assets we have in our communities.

The city of Crown Point should be congratulated as it prepares to build the first of two new trail heads for its new portion of the long-existing Erie Lackawanna bike and pedestrian trail. A trail extension, completed in recent years, brought the trail into Crown Point.

Now the city is leveraging federal grants — at no cost to local tax rolls — to make the entire trail accessible to more people.

The new trail head planned for the Summit Street entry of the trail will include a restroom, paved parking for up to 20 vehicles and an attractive red-roofed shelter for shade, trail picnics, etc. Lowell also is considering plans for a local trail that could connect with other existing region trails.

The Erie-Lackawanna is a beautiful trail that allows users to bike, walk or run for more than 20 miles round trip. It's a great way to experience the region as it winds its way through woodland, prairie and urban environments.

We are exceptionally lucky to have the Erie-Lackawanna, but don't forget the plethora of other long-distance bike trails in the region — trails of the like that many communities lack.

The Erie-Lackawanna, which runs from Crown Point to Hammond; the Prairie Duneland Trail, which runs from Hobart to Chesterton; and the Oak Savannah Trail, which nearly connects the Erie with the Prairie Duneland, are all incredible assets.

A project underway in Munster will take the Pennsy Greenway Trail from the intersection of Timrick Drive and Fisher Street west to Illinois, where it can connect with other trails including the Burnham Greenway.

And communities including Hammond and Highland have worked diligently in the past few years to pave and connect what were previously fragmented sections of the Erie.

Rather than lamenting Chicago's "superior" recreational assets, get out and enjoy our own from time to time.

A bike ride — whether five or 20 miles in length — can be quite an adventure for individuals and families alike.

You don't have to brave street traffic on your bike to get to a trail head, either. Bike racks that attach to vehicles come in varieties for just about any model of car or truck, and many types are reasonably priced.

Lake County communities should continue to build off of and enhance these wonderful assets. And when you use them, let your elected officials know how important they are to the quality of life in Northwest Indiana.

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