Michigan Border-to-Border Trail Initiative pushes for 70+ mile trail network

In Michigan’s Washtenaw County, the County Parks and Recreation Commission’s Border-to-Border Trail Initiative is attempting to develop a network of non-motorized vehicle pathways. Currently, over 24 miles of pathways have been paved with more to come. When complete, the B2B will span 70 miles. The Border-to-Border Trail Initiative operates collaboratively with many unique organizations, including the Washtenaw County Parks and the Huron Waterloo Pathways Initiative (HWPI), a grass-roots organization that wants to connect the local areas of Chelsea, Dexter, Stockbridge, and Pinckney with bicycle highways. This collaborative initiative sources funding and resources from many separate organizations.

The Border-to-Border initiative and its partners have outlined many objectives:

  • “Completion of +/- 35 miles of the Huron River Greenway – a paved shared-use pathway connecting Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor, and Dexter along the Huron River
  • Completion of +/- 29 miles of the Huron Waterloo Pathway – a paved shared use path connecting Dexter, Chelsea, Stockbridge, the Lakelands Trail, and Pinckney in a “Loop”
  • Conservation of the Huron River corridor
  • Provide opportunities for transportation, recreation, river access, and links to neighboring counties
  • To the maximum extent possible, the trail is routed away from roads to create a safe a fun experience for a wide range of users
  • Distinctive signage system creates a unique identity for the B2B while helping users navigate the trail”1

The Border-to-Border Trail Initiative is focusing on safety to gain the support of the public. The messages emphasize that the pathways provide a separated, safe way for pedestrians and bicyclists to travel and participate in recreation. HPWI also emphasizes connectivity and how the pathways will connect local communities to one another.

Karen McKeachie competes in a triathalon. Photo Credit: Huron Waterloo Pathways Initiative

Karen McKeachie, an accomplished and well-loved local triathlete, was killed while biking. The Karen’s Trail campaign honors McKeachie and her engagement in the community and to healthy living by supporting the Border-to-Border Initiative. It also draws additional attention to the safety issues faced by local bicyclists and pedestrians and the benefits that trails can bring to community members.

In addition to enhancing safety, non-motorized pathways provide  environmental and social benefits for cities. When citizens use these pathways for transportation, they avoid burning greenhouse gases, reduce the demand for parking in cities, and encourage density. These pathways also provide a space for interactions between diverse groups of people, thereby fostering a sense of community.

Community members will find their own reasons to enjoy the trail, whether it is to safely bike and walk, enjoy nature, or commute sustainably. HWPI and Border-to-Border have determined that this trail network will fulfill a need in the community – as that need goes beyond safety, so should the campaigns.

About the Author: Olivia Corriere is an undergraduate student from Ann Arbor, Michigan, majoring in Environmental Studies (Sustainability Track) and minoring in Geography. She is particularly interested in the implementation of sustainable practices of all kinds in the daily lives of the public. During Summer 2017, she interned with the Huron Waterloo Pathways Initiative with the Karen’s Trail campaign. In her free time, she enjoys running, creating music playlists, and spending time in coffee shops with friends.

Information compiled from www.huron-waterloo-pathways.org, www.ewashtenaw.org, and www.karenstrail.org.

1Border-to-Border Trail (B2B).” Border-to-Border Trail, Washtenaw County.

Feature Image: Border-to-Border trail. Photo Credit: Huron Waterloo Pathways Initiative

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