Monday, June 19, 2017

The Humboldt Bay Trail 75 years old I skipped a couple of years on this blog--but not on the bike. When half the people in the obituaries are younger than you, an actual bike ride becomes more attractive than a virtual experience. Yesterday I rode 42 miles with my longtime cycling group THE LATTE WARRIORS. It still beats hell out of any gym routine, meditation, discussion, class, regimen or pill and I still feel good a day later.

A couple of years ago Arcata was making noises about a bike trail through town. We'd heard that before but I took some photos of broken up sidewalk while  a few nearby cyclists smiled tentatively. 

Two years later we've had a breakthrough: miles of dreamy bike trail are actually completed in both Arcata and Eureka and the tricky route through the beautiful Arcata Marsh, under construction right now, has a promised completion date of 9/17 2017 (not 2117). Which means..this Fall we'll be tantalizingly close to connecting the south end of Eureka with Humboldt State University in Arcata. Cyclists will then be able to continue north on the beautiful Hammond Trail which runs along the Pacific. I did that ride today. Here's a photo: 

Behold The Map:

Humboldt County cyclists have been working on variations of a city-to-city bike trail (4 miles of dotted lines on the map between the two cities) for more than 25 years. Ten years ago I sat through a presentation at Arcata City Hall given by a team of "Transportation Infrastructure Consultants" from Sacramento. Beware of any committee that employs the word "infrastructure" in its title.

First, we watched an inspiring film about bike trails in Sedona, Az. Then, a lovely Arcata to Eureka trail appeared on a large white board. We were encouraged draw our wish list right on the board using brightly colored magic markers—like second grade art class. 

I drew a bike rack, a woman on the other side of the table added dotted lane markers. "Hey, you can do better than that." said a smiling infrastructure consultant. "Think BIG, think outside of the box!"  Minutes later a two lane bridge over the Freeway appeared areas with swings and sandboxes, fish ponds, a baseball diamond, a snack bar, bird feeders. Bike racks popped up everywhere. "Wow! Better than Sedona!" exclaimed the infrastructure consultants. Then they packed up the white boards, drove back to Sacramento and billed the city a million bucks.

But now, thanks to Humboldt County trail activists like Rees Huges and Dennis Rael we are dealing directly with Caltrans, builder of 
actual roads, bridges and tunnels all over California. They are at work constructing miles of beatiful bike trail through the Arcata Marsh as I write this. With a community buy-in for the dotted line portion they are prepared to finish the trail. 

Jeff Bezos is a Twitter friend of mine. The other day he asked all of us Twitter friends to suggest a worthwhile social investment project.

Jeff, by simply finishing the Rte 101 bike path through Oregon and tacking on the North Coast of California and Southern Washington you could link Seattle with Eureka. If this were Denmark or Holland, it would have happened twenty years ago. Seriously.

Anyway, Jeff, when the project is finished you're invited to bike down to Arcata and stay at my place while you're in town.

In case that scenario doesn't pan out, you, dear reader, are invited to support The Humboldt Bay Bike Trail.
 On day one after the trail opens life will change permanently around here. Students and workers who can't afford Arcata rents will begin to commute from Eureka, whole families will weekend on the trail, tourists will return to beautiful Humboldt Bay and joy bikers like me will be out there daily. Thousands of car and truck miles will not be driven. The treacherous route 101 "safety zone"will become bike free. Waist lines will shrink. Smiles will happen. 

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