Residents divided on the route of Scott's Branch Trail

Wednesday, April 20, 2011 | 10:47 p.m. CDT; updated 11:16 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, April 20, 2011

COLUMBIA — “Safety” became the operative word at Wednesday night's discussion on the rerouting of the proposed Scott’s Branch Trail.

The Bicycle and Pedestrian Commission discussed whether the trail should be routed through a residential neighborhood or multiple nature areas.


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The trail, which will begin at Rollins Road in the Bonnie View Nature Sanctuary, is set to run along the eastern side of the sanctuary before connecting with the Weaver Road stub at the southern end of the sanctuary.

At the City Council meeting March 21, the Parks and Recreation Commission recommended the trail follow along the sidewalks of Weaver, Bray and Dublin roads. This route would also comply with the Columbia Audubon Society’s desire to prohibit all bicycle use on the Audubon Property adjacent to the sanctuary.

The council, finding this suggestion to be unsafe because of the 33 driveways and five intersections the trail would cross, requested an alternative recommendation.

The Parks Board then proposed an alternative route that would bring the trail down the eastern side of the sanctuary, then travel along the southern side of both the sanctuary and the Audubon Property. The trail would continue through the adjacent Dublin Park.

There has been support for the alternate route because of its potential use as a walking trail to Fairview Elementary School and its lack of involvement with motor traffic.

“There are significant dangers for bicyclists and pedestrians in areas where driveways and intersections are located,” Ian Thomas, executive director of PedNet, said.

Janet Godon, a member of the Fairview PTA Wellness Committee, said it is dangerous for Fairview students to walk to school. She said she believes the nature trail would allow safe transportation for students to the elementary school.

Jerry Wade, a neighborhood resident involved in the planning of both the sanctuary and the Audubon property since 2002, opposed the alternate route, however. He said he believes a trail going through multiple nature areas would be the least safe route for pedestrians.

“Safety has been offered as the big reason to use the Audubon property and Dublin Park,” Wade said. “I don’t believe that is a valid argument. There are no eyes on the entire route.”

The committee went on to address whether the donor of the land, the Russell family, stated in the deed whether bicycle use was desired. The deeds for the Bonnie View and Audubon properties, nearly identically worded, stated bicycles could be permitted but did not demand bike privileges.

The Bicycle and Pedestrian Commission, along with the Parks Commission and the Disabilities Commission, will announce its recommendation for the trail route at the council meeting on May 16.

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Matt Wilkinson April 21, 2011 | 6:29 a.m.

I strongly support completion of the Scott's Branch trail via the route on the south side of the Audubon property. The alternative plan of routing around the Audubon property along city streets is impractical and unsafe. I believe the Audubon Society are being unreasonable especially when generous compensation by the city is on the table.

(Report Comment)
Eric Seaman April 22, 2011 | 8:47 p.m.

As an officer of the Columbia Audubon Society, I can respond that there is absolutely no "generous compensation by the city on the table."

(Report Comment)
allison vaughn April 22, 2011 | 9:24 p.m.

There is intrinsic value in protecting natural resources for the sake of biodiversity and for the ecosystem services such property serves the general public of Columbia. The city maintains miles of green space for dogs, walkers, runners, cyclists. With rampant development pressures and changes in the watershed, natural areas such as Scott's Branch are becoming endangered. Building a trail in a very sensitive creek bottom will damage the ecosystem that is already threatened by development upstream. Are drivers in Columbia so erratic and careless that they drive onto sidewalks regularly? As a pedaller, I think bike lanes and sidewalks are a safe, effective and more appropriate alternative for conveying the city's youth instead of destroying a native ecosystem.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz April 22, 2011 | 10:29 p.m.

Matt, it seems to me that the Audobon Society should decide what happens on their land instead of trail walkers or the city.

(Report Comment)
Matt Wilkinson April 27, 2011 | 6:48 p.m.


Riding a bicycle along sidewalks is inherently unsafe.

(Report Comment)
Matt Wilkinson April 27, 2011 | 9:13 p.m.


The trail route suggested for Audubon property does not go through the creek bottom land.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield April 27, 2011 | 9:43 p.m.

Meh. I've been riding on sidewalks since before some of you were born, and I've never even come close to getting hit. And in Columbia, it's perfectly legal everywhere except the urban core.

(Report Comment)
Matt Wilkinson April 28, 2011 | 9:37 a.m.


I'm glad that has been your experience but that does not make the case. And thanks for pointing out that riding on sidewalk downtown is illegal as Allison failed to mention - although of course in the case of the Scotts Branch trail route that is not an issue.

Here is a quote from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration re: riding on sidewalks:

"The safest place for bicycle riding is on the street, where bicycles are expected to follow the same rules of the road as motorists and ride in the same direction."


(Report Comment)
Matt Wilkinson April 28, 2011 | 9:44 a.m.

Jimmy, One other thing. Of course, the safest place of all for riding a bike is on a dedicated bike trail such as proposed to connect Bonnie View and Dublin Parks. Where cars and bikes do not come into conflict. A view that some motorists in this town have expressed very vociferously on this and the Tribune board.

(Report Comment)
Matt Wilkinson April 28, 2011 | 10:10 a.m.


I think your statement "destroying a native ecosystem" is alarmist and overblown.

Driving vehicles causes damage to the ecosystem and watersheds are particularly vulnerable to street storm runoff that carries all kinds of nasty pollutants from vehicles such as motor oils, coolant, tire rubber, brake and clutch dust, metals, particulates from tail pipes etc. into creeks in urban areas including Scott's Branch. So would you not want to at least attempt to minimize that impact with a trail that encourages alternative transportation and healthy outdoor activity? For example kids attending Fairview School.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield April 28, 2011 | 11:16 a.m.

Matt, you need to understand something: Long before it became fashionable to eschew cars in favor of bicycles, some of us had no problems biking around this and other cities, both on sidewalks and in the streets. The whole sharrow and bike lane stuff is really very silly, right up there with wearing spandex or some other special outfit for fear that someone will perceive you as impoverished because you're biking instead of driving. Then and now, I don't need dedicated bike lanes to get around. Shoulders and sidewalks are just fine.

All of the NHTSA and bike fanboi studies in the world won't convince me that I'm safer taking the lane in front of multi-ton vehicles than I am on the sidewalks.

(Report Comment)
Matt Wilkinson April 28, 2011 | 2:44 p.m.


No you need to understand something. I have no problem riding my bike on city streets but it is a far more pleasant experience riding on a dedicated bike trail, especially for younger riders. And you can stuff your nunecessary, stupid comment about clothing right where the sun doesn't shine. I manage quite nicely without any special clothing and I couldn't give a toss if ignorant people think I'm impoverished.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield April 28, 2011 | 3:29 p.m.

Matt, dedicated bike trails are as "nunecessary" and stupid as spandex bike outfits and laws against honking horns at cyclists.

(Report Comment)
Louis Schneebaum April 28, 2011 | 4:42 p.m.

I like to ride my bicycle; I've been doing it in mid-Missouri since I was about 7 years old. I wear blue-jeans and a t-shirt while I do it, no fruit-suit required. Bike lanes are full of pot-holes, road-kill, and refuse -- they can get you killed when trucks are blazing by your left-hand side at 40 mph. Painting a line doesn't make a thing safe.

The studies say there are less accidents on streets than on sidewalks -- but how many are serious injuries vs. street accidents. That's not to say some streets lend themselves to bike riding, because they are residential and not congested with quick-moving traffic.

I once was pulled over for riding on the sidewalk of N college ave. @ 12am. Not a soul in sight, I was 'pulled over' by two corpulent cops who told me it was illegal to ride on the sidewalk. Untrue, it's illegal in the central district. That's the law. They didn't like the law -- they told me to shut up. I guess it's also illegal to cut through a parking lot on your bike or just kinda coast around through it when it's empty. I'm more concerned about douchebags than I am with bike lanes. Let's ban douchebags.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire April 28, 2011 | 7:56 p.m.

Send them to IRAQ!!!

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire April 28, 2011 | 8:00 p.m.


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