last night's meeting

blackbike (Scot E)
None more black

March 24, 2015, 09:22 AM

I attended the hearing on the Sun Prairie trails last night.  It was a good showing, but there was more vocal opposition than I had expect.  As far as I can tell, aside from the running coach, it was primarily from people who lived next to the park.  I posted this in a few places and sent to my alderperson:

 I spoke last night but had not expected to, so my thoughts were not as organized as they could have been, so I’d like to summarize them in writing. I’m an almost 12 year resident of Sun Prairie, with three small children, in a neighborhood full of elementary school kids who all ride bicycles, near the Liberty Square development. I’ve also been involved with the Capital Off-Road Pathfinders (also known as CORP – the Dane County chapter of the International Mountain Bicycling Association) and trail building and maintenance for 7 years. Here are the key points I tried to make:
 • Trail building is as much about land preservation and advocacy and stewardship as it is about the silent sport of mountain biking. From removal of invasive species to keeping the land clean, people who manage and use mountain bike trails love and respect natural resources and typically have far more active involvement in the care for these resources than the general public.
 • In Dane County capital off Road Pathfinders have worked successfully and in close partnership with agencies such as the Wisconsin DNR, Dane County Parks, the city of Middleton, and the city of Fitchburg. Cities in Dane County are thinking forward about recreation, healthy alternatives, and activities for our youth, and Sun Prairie should consider following suit.
 • There is a fair amount of misunderstanding and misrepresentation about what cross country mountain biking is. It is not irresponsible, destructive, and is a perfectly valid healthy outdoor recreation activity embraced by a growing number of communities.
 • Trails do not become crowded nor do they typically present any traffic risks (collisions, overuse etc). Trail use is typically shared between different recreational activities and user types with a high degree of mutual respect and success.
 • As a growing family community, Sun Prairie should consider the number of children in the city and that allowing a trail system in the park is of great added value for the community. These trails will be designated largely beginner level in nature and provide a great opportunity for families to experience trail riding within the city; today the only alternative is to drive at least 30 minutes to another city and frequently to trails that are more challenging for children to learn.
 • Many of the concerns I heard seemed to stem from individual desires and interests – ranging from observing wildlife from one’s yard to preserving the running course for the xc running team. While this does not invalidate them, they generally do not take the utilitarian view for the entire community. Further, many of those arguments very significantly mis- or overstate the impact of having a singletrack trail through the woods.
I urge the city to please consider as objectively as possible the reality of the impact and the benefit to the community overall. It is clearly forward looking to approve these trails, as other Dane County municipalities have. Help us add more value to our city

~ Look up on the wall baby, hand me down my shootin' iron.
Call your mother long distance, tell her to expect your body home.


Trail Steward - Sheehan Park

March 24, 2015, 05:09 PM

Thanks for taking the time to speak last night. We appreciate the support and hope the comments you made did not fall on deaf ears.
As you mentioned, the vocal opposition was larger than we anticipated with some continually focusing on points we had already provided solutions for and others focused heavily on how this trail will impact them personally versus the city as a whole. Many of those posed concerns were not answered last night and our group is currently researching data to provide responses. We hope to have a response provided to city officials within the next 24 hours as well as additional FAQ posted to our website and Facebook group.

A couple of us also felt a little blindsided by one of our own group members who, for the first time since this project began, presented her reasons for opposing the project. With that in mind, if you belong to an organization and have concerns, may we please suggest you talk to that organization early on. This conversation will allow the group to know of your concerns and provide you with additional details so you see the larger plan and potentially make changes to the proposal that they might not have discovered on their own.
Also, with voting quickly approaching I suggest you do a little research to determine which alders and politicians support cycling in your area. Every vote counts and placing more power in the hands of those who oppose cycling, or cycling related projects, could end some of these projects. I realize there is more to this than just cycling, just keep it in mind.