Goshen News, Goshen, IN

March 2, 2013

Bike paths help improve our quality of life


— We at The Goshen News happily anticipate winter’s end for any number of valid reasons. One sits perched at the top of the list, prompted in large part by the front page of Thursday’s newspaper.

Simply put, we’re ready for the snow, ice and slush to depart so we can get back on the bike paths.

“On the right trail” was the top-of-the-fold headline for an article by correspondent Denise Fedorow. The piece outlined the many paths that make up the bicycle/pedestrian trail network in and around Goshen.

Accompanying the article was a photo from 2011 showing bicyclists traveling the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail. In the foreground are Marilyn and Don Jantzi, looking like they’re enjoying the ride. We know the feeling.

Again, we’re ready for winter to be gone.

The News’ enthusiasm for the trails isn’t the flush of new romance. Much of the trail system has been in place for the better part of a couple decades. And the vision for “what could be” pre-dates the physical construction of the paths.

Credit, in part, goes to former Goshen Mayor Mike Puro, who requested federal funds to develop the trails in the 1980s. Praise as well goes to the Friends of the Pumpkinvine, who held fast to the goal of the abandoned railroad corridor being re-purposed for people-centric locomotion — walking and cycling.

Thanks to those early efforts, Goshen-area residents enjoy a transportation and recreation network that doesn’t rely on combustion engines.

We can bike or ride through the downtown, with trails running north-south along the hydraulic canal and through the Goshen College campus down to the Bethany Christian schools campus. A short run links GC to the Greencroft complex. Another stretch extends from Abshire Park practically all the way to Middlebury. More recently, a trail has been developed linking Goshen to Elkhart along C.R. 45.

That’s just a snapshot of what’s available. For the big picture, we encourage folks to go exploring. Consider it a treasure hunt with the wealth close at hand — or foot, or bike tire tread.

At the very least, people will find alternative routes from points A to B. We think they might also discover the benefits of exercise, not to mention the simple joy of being outdoors. Fine vistas await on the rural scenic routes, not to mention the reward of the city neighborhoods too easily missed when we limit travel to state and federal highway designations.

The bike and pedestrian trails are key to our collective quality of life. Let’s continue to unlock the potential.