Opinion

As the crow flies, so may you ride

If the crow couldn’t fly, we suspect he’d ride

a bicycle. And, being the creature generally

credited with finding the shortest distance between two points, no doubt he’d find some value in several new shortcuts for those inclined toward more organic modes of travel.

Taking its place on the non-motorized map this week is the newly improved “Mandus Olson trail,” connecting Koura and New Brooklyn roads. Technically an unopened right of way awaiting some formal connection of the north and south spurs of the Mandus Olson, the three-tenths-of-a-mile route has historically been little more than a rutted dirt track. But with the backing of the Squeaky Wheels Bicycle Club and the endorsement of the city’s draft Non-Motorized Transportation Plan, the trail has been graded and graveled to a width of eight to 10 feet. The work was completed over the past several weeks under the city’s gravel road maintenance program, with barricades set up to prevent vehicle access until robust metal bollards can be installed.

The project, in the words of city Public Works Director Randy Witt, “eliminated the huge puddles that swallowed bicyclists and walkers alike”; early reports from riders (and observations made during a rainy stroll this week) suggest it should hold up to all-weather travel for bicyclists and those wayfarers traveling afoot. The trail skirts the Grand Forest, and we believe neighbors will note its immediate value: Youths in the Meadowmeer area, for example, now have a safe and more direct route by bicycle to the Woodward/Sakai school complex and the main school campus beyond. That route should be improved still further when a sidewalk/bike lane plan on New Brooklyn goes into effect next year.

Looking for shortcuts, the crow might also shave a few minutes off his travels (or least have a more pleasant ride) by wheeling toward recent improvements to the west spur of Shepard Way in Winslow. In fact, bicyclists coming into town from the island’s south end now have several options for

avoiding the latter half of the dreaded Wyatt Way hillclimb.

A right turn down Nicholson Place will lead riders to the tree-lined Shepard spur, widened and graveled and exiting midway down Grow Avenue. The more intrepid might take a right onto Weaver Road and make a jog around the old Strawberry Pier property, where they’ll find a public trail

easement that winds along the Eagle Harbor waterfront and ends up, believe it or not, at the foot of Winslow Way. Either way, riders can trade a little of the huffing and puffing associated with Wyatt for more enjoyable routes.

* * * * *

Also on the trail of trails: At several recent hearings on the draft Non-Motorized Transportation Plan, Grow Avenue-area neighbors noted with frustration the dead-ending of the east end of Shepard Way, once a popular cut-through until the route was cut off by a commercial development. Our friend the crow noted this week that the property owners now are seeking a change of use for that parcel; enterprising bike/ped advocates might use the permitting process to reopen that issue, and perhaps the trail. Even a narrow sidewalk would do.

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