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Bike trails bring forked feelings

May 15, 2012
By ANDREW POTTER - Staff Writer ( , Times-Republican

Want to get people all up in a tizzy?

Just say two words - bike trails.

Those who enjoy being active love them and then there is a sect that thinks they are a waste of money and wants to put the brakes on them.

Who knew two simple words like "bike" and "trails" could be so divisive?

I guess if I wanted to use the correct wording, proponents call them "recreational trails" but bike trails are so much easier to say and people know what I mean.

Many say these trails don't get used but I jogged on the trail that connects Marshalltown to Grimes Farm Saturday and can beg to differ. On an ideal day to be outdoors, I saw about 14 people in the 30 minutes I was out there. Some were biking, some were jogging and there was a walker here and there. There was even an apparent father-daughter combo on a dual bike who appeared to be having fun.

Seeing these trails being used is good for us all when we see people from the community dedicated to staying healthy.

It was an active weekend for my family as we also took the walk to the tower at Grimes Farm Friday night. There was a perfectly placed picnic table at the top for us to enjoy our sandwich supper.

I'm not sure how much use that trail to the tower gets but we also saw some people taking advantage of that with the nice view as a reward.

Of course, the big trail people want to badmouth is one that heads out to the Melbourne area that runs along Highway 330. People want to say there is never anyone on it. Well, that's not totally the case.

I have seen people on it but I do agree it could be used more. I guess I'm not overly in favor of bike trails or against them but if I had a decent bike (like one that costs more than $40) I can see how those trails could be very scenic and enjoyable.

With RAGBRAI coming through this year, you can bet the next couple months we will see even more trail usage as training goes one for the big ride.

It appears the next great controversy was whether there should be a trail made along the soon-to-be abandoned rail route from Marshalltown to Eldora.

There is heated debate on both sides of this issue, with many thinking public funds are too hard to come by nowadays to spend them on a trail.

I'm going to stay neutral on this one, as either way and it can get people riled up. Maybe those fuming people could find a way to burn off stress somehow.

How about taking a bike ride or a jog on ... a bike trail?

See, they are good for something.


Reporter Andrew Potter is a Tuesday columnist for the Times-Republican. The views expressed in this column are personal views of the writer and don't necessarily reflect the views of the T-R. Contact Andrew Potter at 641-753-6611 or



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