Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Intrepid Baytown Cycle Hiker

Baytown can be a tough place to get outdoor exercise if you are a bicycler, jogger, walker or an urban trekker. Sure, we have a few places to do these activities, but they require an automobile to get to them. Here in America, using an automobile to get to your place of exertion has never really been an issue, but it sure is now and in the future, it will become even more so.

This past Friday I decided to grab my camera and take a walk around town instead of driving to Jenkins Park or the Goose Creek Stream Trail head. (I don't particularly like the idea of parking my vehicle and leaving it while I exercise, only to come back and find it vandalized or missing).

What this meant was walking in the street or in someone's yard for 6 of the 7 miles I eventually traveled. The problem is we are not a bicycle or foot-friendly city and since we are a "city on the move", the lack of sidewalks and road shoulders will get worse before it gets better.

Every step taken or pedal pushed brings a risk of stumbling and falling or getting ran over by an unforgiving public in 3 to 5000 pound moving vehicles. The obvious question many would ask is why not just remain on a known path and then there is little chance of being injured? Well, for those of us who regularly hike or ride bicycles we need greater distances to reduce monotony and to get a change of scenery.

You see, a 2 mile foot path may appear adequate to people who do not regularly use them, but to a trekker, 2 miles is nothing. The beautiful Jenkins Park trail is hopefully going to be expanded to a 3.1 mile trail when the park expansion takes place and this will give runners a true 5K or 5 kilometer trail with markers. This will be a major improvement to runners who can make 8.45 laps and log in a complete marathon distance. It's my hope that the city of Baytown will sponsor a 5 and 10K fun run here in the future, like the old Baytown Heatwave we used to have on July 4th.

The Goose Creek Stream Trail is very nice, but it should be expanded north all the way to Rollingbrook Drive, which incidentally has beautiful flowers growing alongside of it. I know, as I walked from my home in Chaparral Village down Massey Tompkins, to Rollingbrook and down the east fork of Goose Creek to the trail head at Garth and Decker. It was my intention to walk all the way to Bayland Park, but at this point the delicious smell of Mexican food coming from El Toros wafted over me and I decided to return home by the shortest distance.

This meant walking the roadways and negotiating business and lawn frontage for the most part (a tricky and rough way to walk) since there are no sidewalks. By the time I made it to HEB I had a 4 hour walk behind me and I made my way to the feeder road of SH146 and turned onto one of the few countryfied paths left in this city, albeit not exactly legal…the path by the RR tracks. Yes, it is private property and I am guilty. I won't even argue about it.

I love to ride my modified beach cruiser bicycle out to Beach City on a 33 mile bike ride, but it has become too dangerous in my estimation. Note here: I'll probably do it again anyway. What this means is leaving CV down Massey Tompkins (shoulder-less) to SH146 and then turning right onto 565 (very shoulder-less) to 3180. This is very dangerous and I don't recommend anyone doing it. 3180 has a nice shoulder for a ways, but then it too becomes just a two lane at about 2354 and cars really fly out there, so you have to be very watchful and ready to bail off the road.

I like to stop at the little store out there close to 1405 and support them and frankly, the old legs are ready for a break at this point. I take 1405 to 99 and make my way (usually to Kilgore road) and eventually back to CV. It's always a great ride and on a 30 pound cruiser-type bicycle, a great rewarding ride.

I envision this city with a network of paths and trails, suitable for hiking and bicycling that will allow residents to get from one side of the city to the other on nothing more than a bicycle seat or a pair of sneakers. Am I asking too much? I don't think so and I was told one time that if I ever go fishing for whales – I should take along the tarter sauce.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed your article on walking paths in Baytown. To me that would be one of the sinle most improvements in our City. My brother lives in centrla Illinois in a town called Bloomington. They have bulit these 5ft. wide walking paths that tie virtually the entire city together. I was blown away when I saw them. So much activity for bikes and pedestrians. I still have not found the walking paths in Baytown. I started at Bayland Park one day and they just petered out along the Spur. Any way, keep up the Great articles. RP

hikids57 said...

Hi Bert,

I enjoyed the article. My wife and I were just discussing the possibility of sidewalks and bike lanes in Baytown.

I also wrote an article: http://www.bavoices.hikids57.com/exercise/52-walking-routes-in-baytown-texas.html, which gives great treks (with maps) in Baytown. You may also enjoy the site mentioned in the article. It lets you map out your own suggested paths for others in Baytown to view.

May God continue to bless you and all of yours,
Don D. Morrison, Editor, www.bavoices.com.

The older I get... No regrets please.

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