Rails to bike trails gain popularity


Published: Sunday, January 14, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 14, 2007 at 12:29 a.m.
The recently replaced City of Gainesville logo was a simple drawing of an 1870s era steam locomotive. As far as I know, it is the only logo our town has ever sported.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with its origin, it was our logo because in the late 1800s five different railroad lines met each other on S. Main Street between Depot and SW 16th avenues, making this the commerce center of town. There you found many warehouses where goods were transferred amongst these rail lines and small river barges making Gainesville a distribution hub for northern made goods.
Today only one railroad track still enters town. Fortunately our local leaders have recently utilized three of those old railroad right of ways as bike trails, all of which still meet near Depot Avenue.
Presently you can ride dedicated bike paths from Haile Plantation to Hawthorne or to the airport area. Additionally there are various plans for more trails to Waldo, Palatka, Archer, High Springs and Micanopy.
These rails-to-trails type of bikeways are increasingly popular nationwide and are infinitely safer than riding adjacent to busy roads. The original idea was to establish a parking and activity hub/center for those wishing to bicycle and stay out of harm's way. This is why I think that Depot Park should become more of a priority for our community's leaders.
It is a shame that the promised skateboard park has been moved to the west side of town, but that is politics.
Adequate parking, more signage, event activities and a bicycle repair service at Depot Park would further encourage those who enjoy the exercise and scenery to do so conveniently from the historic center of town.
Like the railroads of old, our bike paths are fast becoming a great resource for our community and the time is right for the next level of investment into this park.
Ed Clark, Gainesville

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