Monday, December 17, 2007

When in Doubt: Document

I've been thinking of this idea for a while now and talking to local rolfer and cycling sub-god, Jake, this morning helped push me into action.

Spokane has a bunch of locals-only type trails. I don't mean "locals only" in the Surf Punks "stay out" way, but rather, in the "you don't know about them unless you live here or even in the neighborhood" way.

Anyway, we've got the high drive trails, Beacon Hill, Latah Valley, and lots of other small patches of trails. The fact that the trails exist are well-known. But the trails themselves are not well documented. For example, I've never seen a map of the high drive/bluff trails.

I think most folks like it that way. Undocumented trails are like having your own private trails. And having your own private trail is a rare thing in this over-populated world.

Even so, I think we should be documenting these trails. And here's why.

A while back, I posted about the potential for a connection between Aubrey White Parkway and Albi Stadium. One thing that's going on there is that a developer has come in and blown away a good chunk of the trails at the base of the hill. In fact, a main connection from the hill to Aubrey White parkway will shortly be buried by suburbia forever.

Talk to folks in that neighborhood, or even guys like Jake, who doesn't even live in the neighborhood, but still rides those trails and knows them well. By folks who use these trails, they are well-known. But to official plats, assessments, legal docs, etc -- these trails do not exist. And if they don't exist in the legal realm, then it makes it just that much easier to bulldoze over them or to disregard public input regarding them.

Take a look at Tuscan Ridge, a development off of high drive. Just in the initial assessment/fussing on the proposed land, a trail was bulldozed over and is now covered by a pile of dirt the size of my house.

My take is that we should be documenting all trails. I'm not 100% sure what we should do with that data once we have it, but one thought is to somehow bake it into the Master Bike Plan. Jake suggested printing up little maps and putting them at bike shops. Again: I don't know exactly how that plays out, but doc'ing is the first step.

The bottom line is that we need to make it harder for development to destroy these trails. And in the case where development does move in, we need to encourage developers to respect the trails or improve them with their development. This starts by providing a paper trail (pa dum pum) to show the existence of such trails.

If you have a GPS and you use any trails in this city. Send me a gpx file. How about that? I'll start collecting and posting on a map, as we do with the commuter project. We can start there.


David Blaine said...

If Jake says to do something, you should do it or he will crush you with his mega-calves.
Jake cannot track his rides because GPS technology is not fast enough to keep up with him.

Web said...

The more people that know about a trail, the better off we all are. In fact, trail riders reduce vandalism by the fact that they're there ... I'd suggest recording waypoints from rides and posting them to MotionBased, Bikely, etc. Even if someone doesn't have a GPS, they can print an online map.