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Monday, April 14, 2008
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Published Monday, April 14, 2008 2:12 AM

Bikers ride the CS trails

Bikers ride the CS trails
Eagle photo/Gabriel Chmielewski
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There's not much room for a dozen cyclists on Southwest Parkway -- which is exactly why a group of residents decided to bike the busy thoroughfare Sunday afternoon.

The Brazos Valley Cyclists invited elected officials to join them on a three-mile ride to draw attention to the city's limited bike trail system and encourage environmental awareness.

College Station Mayor Ben White, along with Councilmen John Crompton and James Massey, accepted the challenge, as did Phil Shackelford, an aide to U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Waco.

College Station adopted a bikeway and pedestrian master plan in 2002. At that time, city officials estimated that more than 10,000 bicycle trips were made to the Texas A&M University campus each day from various points across the city.

The city has more than 25 miles of bikeways, according to its Web site, but the Brazos Valley Cyclists say that's not enough.

Jonathan Coopersmith, a Texas A&M professor who helped organize Sunday's ride, said he wanted the council members to see for themselves how difficult it is to cycle down a busy road in a narrow bike lane.

"Part of our focus is to remind elected officials that when we build roads, we need to build the bike infrastructure at that time," he said.

The cyclists weren't making a formal plea for funding Sunday, but rather attempting to show how governmental assistance could improve conditions for riders.

Planning bicycle-friendly thoroughfares is a goal of the City Council, but it's difficult to reconstruct existing roads, Mayor White said.

"People think, why not just go and paint white lines down the street?" he said. "It's not that simple. Logistically, you have to study an intersection before you can do that. It requires engineering, and it costs money."

Councilman Massey recalled biking to school almost every day when he was a student at Texas A&M.

It used to be easier to get around the city, but recent population growth has brought more vehicles, Crompton said.

College Station has about 87,000 residents, and about 45,000 students attend Texas A&M.

The cyclists rode for about an hour Sunday, starting at Lemontree Park and going down Southwest Parkway to Hondo Drive. They rode down Harvey Mitchell Parkway "so everyone can appreciate the new improved intersection" at Welsh Avenue, Coopersmith said.

"This route shows the wide range of biking conditions in College Station," he said.

Among the riders was Bill Garrett, who works as an information technology specialist at Texas A&M. He doesn't have a parking pass because he always rides his bike -- rain or shine.

"Whatever you pay for your rain pants, think about what it costs to fill up the tank of a monster truck," he said. "In the long run, you save a lot of money."

But cyclists have to be careful in a community like Bryan-College Station, where a sidewalk occasionally ends and the paths aren't always connected, Garrett said.

"We try to stay off the main arteries," he said. "You just can't go out on a Friday of a football game weekend. You have to find ways to cross the street, and you don't get on Texas [Avenue] because it's a death trap."

‚€Ę April Avison's e-mail address is april.avison@theeagle.com.





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