Summit organizer: Trails need urban network

The Grand Valley has the perfect climate and topography to support a top-shelf collection of trails, but more needs to be done to create an urban network that connects populated areas with the trails that dot the outdoors.

So says the organizer of the inaugural Walking and Biking Trails Summit, set for today at Two Rivers Convention Center.

“That’s really the goal (of the summit) — to start to harness the appetite in the community to talk about trails and how to get more trail projects planned and in the works,” said Dave Grossman, coordinator of the Grand Valley Trails Alliance and organizer of the unique event.

Two panel discussions are planned for the morning session, one with a focus on economic opportunities possible through trail projects, the second on health-related issues.

Two sets of four breakout sessions are planned for the afternoon, each with a focus on economics, health and safety, transportation and recreation, as they relate to urban walking and biking trail networks.

There will also be interactive exhibits where attendees can participate in poll questions, provide input on area maps and pose individual questions, Grossman said.

Tickets are $15 at the door, and a light breakfast, lunch and afternoon snack will be provided. The full program and additional information can be found at http://www.trailsummit.com.

As for concrete goals for the community, Grossman hopes the summit dialog will include what people would like to see in the future, what problem areas can be identified and feedback about what local trail advocates are doing right.

Further, the summit’s focus on urban trails — and building connections to the spectacular recreation trail systems that surround population areas — will be front and center.

“I think we’ve got a great start,” Grossman said, adding that the current Riverfront Trail system has the potential to be the “spine” of a great trail network. “What we need to do is connect to that more, and build connections so that people can ride their bikes to work, and ride their bikes to school, and walk safely to school and to the market,” he said. “Those are the details that we’re going to try and prioritize and flesh out and start encouraging our civic leaders to start putting some emphasis on.”


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