COLUMBIA — As a group of Columbia residents walked up the newly dedicated Greenbriar Trail, they stopped to notice a vintage bicycle disassembled and hanging vertically from a tree like a mobile.
Nine other bikes lay in repose in the brush alongside the new trail, a half-mile concrete path that connects the MKT Nature and Fitness Trail, the MU Recreation Trail and Greenbriar Drive. Signs that pointed out native plant species also lined the path.
The bikes and signs were some of the small details GetAbout Columbia had prepared for the dedication ceremony for Greenbriar, which drew a crowd of about 150 people Wednesday evening. Gov. Jay Nixon used the event to kick off his 100 Missouri Miles initiative, a challenge to Missouri residents to bike, paddle, run, roll, walk or skate 100 miles before the end of the year.
“Missouri has some of the best parks and trails in the country,” Nixon said. He referred to Missouri being named “Best Trails State” by American Trails in April.
“You might think ‘Best Trails’ would go to somewhere like Colorado or Vermont,” he said. “But it didn’t.”
Most of Columbia’s political leaders were at the event, including UM System President Tim Wolfe, Mayor Bob McDavid, all six City Council members and former Mayor Darwin Hindman.
Wolfe commended Nixon’s 100 Missouri Miles initiative for encouraging Missouri residents to get more active and take advantage of the state’s many trail systems. The initiative and the new trail will “bolster our state’s reputation as a premier place for trails,” he said.
McDavid called Columbia’s trails one of the city's “crown jewels” and said 70 percent of households in the city use the trail system.
Mark Consiglio’s family is one of those households. Consiglio and his family live next to Greenbriar’s new trailhead. He said his thoughts about the trail have changed throughout the construction process.
“It was much larger in scope than we originally realized,” Consiglio said. “And I think anyone who sees 100-year-old trees being chopped down, you get a little sad for that.”
He said that overall, he was pleased with the project.
“We realized it was a really good purpose, to connect the community closer to campus and the city and all the other trails,” Consiglio said.
The Greenbriar project was paid for with $22 million the Federal Highway Administration awarded Columbia, as part of its Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program. Three other communities were also awarded grants. GetAbout Columbia manages the award money.
Janet Godon, GetAbout’s outreach coordinator and planner, came up with the idea for vintage bicycle installation art and was able to get the bikes donated from Klunk Bicycles and Repair. She called it a ghost bike park, and she hopes the bikes will be there a long time.
“I’m hoping that people will hear about it and get their families to bike to the ghost bike park,” she said.
Supervising editor is Hannah Wiese.