LCTA needs your help!  In August 2009, the Cedar Rapids City Council agreed to develop a Comprehensive Trails Plan. The direction from the Council was to provide a multi-modal connectivity system for the community (finding safe and efficient ways for bicylists and pedestrians to use the same streets as motorized vehicles).  At the City of Cedar Rapids Infrastructure Committee meeting this week, the Committee finalized its recommendation for the Comprehensive Trails Plan.  The plan will be presented at the Council meeting on Tuesday, January 24th at 4:00PM.  LCTA is asking members to support the plan by contacting your elected officials.  Below are some points and/or ideas that can be used to communicate the positive effect the Comprehensive Trails Plan will have on the Cedar Rapids community.

The current trail system has many well-kept and maintained trails.  However, the trails are not well connected to each other and in some cases, not well connected to anything or anyplace.  One of the key strategies of the plan is to create a trails network accessible within ten minutes walking time of every household in Cedar Rapids (Comprehensive Trails Plan).  The plan includes 10 recommendations that are necessary in moving trail development forward:

1. Create a staff level position to be manager of bicycle, pedestrian and ADA facilities for implementing the Cedar Rapids Comprehensive Trails Plan.
2. Officially adopt the “Cedar Trails” brand or developed alternate “brand” for the Primary Connectivity Network.
3. Adopt, utilize and update the Cedar Trail Segment Schedules (pages 27-112) as working documents.
4. Create preliminary plans and detailed cost opinions for the priority trail segments in the Phase 1 plan.
5. Adopt a development philosophy consistent with the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation EquityAct: A Legacy for Users (SA FETEA-LU) and the current transportation legislation. This means that all public streets are envisioned to be “complete streets.”
6. Dedicate a consistent allocation to the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for multi-modal connectivity. Protectively pursue grant opportunities.
7. Maintenance – Establish a policy of best management practices and consistent funding sufficient for long term maintenance.
8. Adopt design guidelines for the development of bicycle and multi-use facilities.
9. Dedicate trail or right-of-way easements along Primary Connectivity Network routes.
10. Incorporate projects into the current CIP.

To view the full report, please visit: http://www.shive-hattery.info/CRTrails/pdf/CRCTPFinal010612.pdf.

There are many reasons why now is the time to move forward with the Comprehensive Trails Plan.  The report “Active Transportation: Cost-Effective Mobility Improvements—for Everyone” by Rails to Trails Conservancy explains that walking and bicycling transportation projects make the most of every tax dollar spent. “With fewer federal dollars available, these projects can be completed at a low cost, are highly popular and significantly improve mobility (RailstoTrails.org).”

In addition to being cost effective, trails align well with Iowa’s Healthiest State Initiative.  Iowa has set a goal to be the healthiest state in the nation.  To do this, cities in Iowa are currently organizing plans to create “Blue Zones” in their communities. Cedar Rapids is currently organizing several activities to promote Cedar Rapids as a Blue Zone community. “Rather than asking people to increase their will power, the Blue Zones Community model works to improve environments. Little changes to your home, work, school, social, physical, and policy environments can make healthy choices the easy choices so that well-being improves naturally (BlueZonesProjects.com).”

Other community development experts cite additional reasons to make the move to comprehensive trails and complete streets.  Peter Kageyam, speaker and book author of For the Love of Cities, explains that people may complain about poor roads, but fixing the road won’t make a citizen love their city more.  However, building a trail system will.  Providing experiences for citizens will increase their love of their city.  Expert urban developer, Jeff Speck explains that complete streets offer more than just transportation modes – complete streets are designed for community member interaction – public spaces for citizens to share.  Again, providing experiences for community members to interact, not just transport. 

With gas prices on the rise, a near health crisis on the horizon, and a population that is willing to relocate to cities that offer great experiences, now is the time to move foward with the Comprehensive Trails Plan.  This is imperative to the economic success of the city of Cedar Rapids and the greater region. Now is the time to act!  Please contact your elected officials and ask them to support the Comprehensive Trails Plan.  The email addresses for city council officials are:

Ron Corbett, Mayor: [email protected]
Don Karr: [email protected]
Chuck Swore: [email protected]
Kris Gulick: [email protected]
Monica Vernon: [email protected]
Pat Shey: [email protected]
Justin Shields: [email protected]
Ann Poe: [email protected]
Scott Olson: [email protected]