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Bike paths behind box-store-laden thoroughfares?

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Bike paths behind box-store-laden thoroughfares?

Old 07-17-09, 10:44 PM
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brianinc-ville
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Bike paths behind box-store-laden thoroughfares?

So, I live in a pretty bike-unfriendly town -- the kind where the downtown died a long time ago and most of the commercial activity is on miles of strip malls and box stores, on very busy 45-mph multilane roads. Riding out there in the sprawl is barely an option for me, Mr. Super Bike Activist Dude , and really wouldn't be a good idea for an inexperienced cyclist. Unfortunately, there aren't any parallel routes. I'd love to see business move back downtown, but the reality is that the sprawl is there.

But here's what I'm wondering: does anyone know of any North American cities where bike paths have been built behind the box stores? It would seem to make perfect sense: no car traffic, no driveway crossings. More consumers to the trough. Here in Greenville (totally flat, wide-open, former tobacco fields, mostly), there's always plenty of space back there. In a lot of places, you wouldn't even have to put down much new pavement -- just provide linkages between the adjoining back lots, which now tend to be separated by grass medians with high curbs. Obviously it'd be hard to convince the landowners to give up the easement, but on the other hand, maybe it could be made worth their while.

Does anyone know of any places where this type of infrastructure has been built?
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Old 07-17-09, 10:58 PM
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I use the areas behind stripmalls, boxstores, shopping centers, factories, and warehouses as if they are designated bike routes. I guess they are, really, since I have designated them as suitable for my use. I commute on a mountain bike though, a roadbike rider might have some difficulty with curbs, landscaping, drainage ditches, railroad tracks, etc. It wouldn't take much to adapt these areas for general use, but I think liability issues would probably prevent it from ever happening.
We can always dream though...
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Old 07-17-09, 11:50 PM
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Ever notice all the impromptu bike paths that spring up...
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Old 07-18-09, 02:37 AM
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We have just what the OP describes here in Sydney Australia, at least in my neighborhood. I'll post some pictures if you're interested.
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Old 07-18-09, 08:11 AM
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We have such a greenway (MUP) here in Knoxville TN. It runs behind all the stores and strip malls on a very busy street. I'm not sure if it's there because of good planning (doubtful) or because it runs on land that otherwise is unusable, running on an interstate right of way (more likely).
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Old 07-18-09, 08:25 AM
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I do it too but it's a lot of curb jumping.
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Old 07-18-09, 09:20 AM
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I go behind a strip mall, but it may be more dangerous than the main drag. All the impaired older drivers also use that route because they are scared to go on the main drag.
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Old 07-18-09, 09:50 AM
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Cyclaholic and byte_speed, would you be able to share some pictures and stories? Do those MUPs in Sydney and Knoxville get a lot of use?
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Old 07-18-09, 11:11 AM
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I've ridden plenty of MUPs in communities that are behind big box stores and strip malls; usually they are part of a seperate ROW and are definetly not connections of the parking lots. some would be close to being called a sidewalk.


powerline and utility ROWs and old train corridors are great possible locations for this type of trail in urban areas, often times these conveinently cross communities near stripmalls and box store locations.

NC bike advocacy has a curious history. lots of kowtow to the motorvehicle.
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Old 07-18-09, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by brianinc-ville View Post
But here's what I'm wondering: does anyone know of any North American cities where bike paths have been built behind the box stores?
there's a great bike path four miles from the casa that's not behind, but in front of a local Wally World and to the side of a Target:

http://www.pinellascounty.org/trailgd/PDF/Tyrone.pdf
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Old 07-18-09, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by mikewille View Post
I use the areas behind stripmalls, boxstores, shopping centers, factories, and warehouses as if they are designated bike routes. I guess they are, really, since I have designated them as suitable for my use. I commute on a mountain bike though, a roadbike rider might have some difficulty with curbs, landscaping, drainage ditches, railroad tracks, etc. It wouldn't take much to adapt these areas for general use, but I think liability issues would probably prevent it from ever happening.
We can always dream though
...
Excellent. And if you post these paths on Bikely and other route mapping sites, you'll have other cyclists helping to "break in" your new paths.
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Old 07-18-09, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by linux_author View Post
there's a great bike path four miles from the casa that's not behind, but in front of a local Wally World and to the side of a Target:

http://www.pinellascounty.org/trailgd/PDF/Tyrone.pdf
If I'm not mistaken it's in an old railroad bed, which might help to explain why it's in front of rather then behind Target and Wally World. I take that section out to Bay Pines every couple of months. It's a nice quiet ride. I go all the way up past Bicycle Outfitters then double back to Bay Pines.
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Old 07-18-09, 01:38 PM
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The far western end of the Minuteman bikeway in Massachusetts runs along behind some high tech office parks. This part of it has worked out very well for people who bike commute to companies in those office parks. It's a fine way to avoid the very congested downtown Bedford area.

Side note: At the present, a lot of the high tech office space stands empty. This of course, is due to the economy, and the highs and lows of the technology business.
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Old 07-18-09, 09:02 PM
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Originally Posted by brianinc-ville View Post
Cyclaholic and byte_speed, would you be able to share some pictures and stories? Do those MUPs in Sydney and Knoxville get a lot of use?
The one in Knoxville does not get much use, probably for the same reason why MUPs generally aren't used that often; they don't go to enough useful places. The Knoxville one runs next to I-40/75 behind the Turkey Creek series of strip malls, ending at a McDonalds on Lovell Rd. I guess it's useful for people wanting to walk between the Lovell Rd area and Turkey Creek, and perhaps relax a bit during lunch.
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Old 07-18-09, 09:14 PM
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http://www.accessfayetteville.org/go...ud_Creek_R.pdf

To my son's day care and connects to a trail that runs to my house. The later trail goes up to my university, how convenient.
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Old 07-19-09, 10:21 AM
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Hey, thanks, y'all -- that's useful to know.
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Old 07-19-09, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Ngchen View Post
The one in Knoxville does not get much use, probably for the same reason why MUPs generally aren't used that often; they don't go to enough useful places. The Knoxville one runs next to I-40/75 behind the Turkey Creek series of strip malls, ending at a McDonald's on Lovell Rd. I guess it's useful for people wanting to walk between the Lovell Rd area and Turkey Creek, and perhaps relax a bit during lunch.
Given that in a lot of areas they are old "abandoned" railroad beds is it any wonder that they don't really go everywhere that people want or need to go?
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Old 07-19-09, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy View Post
Given that in a lot of areas they are old "abandoned" railroad beds is it any wonder that they don't really go everywhere that people want or need to go?
Well, not necessarily in that railroads tend to be in the business of hauling bulk quantities of stuff, while we would be more inclined to haul just ourselves. So places with out demand for bulk transport might still do OK with individuals.
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Old 07-19-09, 02:54 PM
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Originally Posted by mikewille View Post
I use the areas behind stripmalls, boxstores, shopping centers, factories, and warehouses as if they are designated bike routes. I guess they are, really, since I have designated them as suitable for my use. I commute on a mountain bike though, a roadbike rider might have some difficulty with curbs, landscaping, drainage ditches, railroad tracks, etc. It wouldn't take much to adapt these areas for general use, but I think liability issues would probably prevent it from ever happening.
We can always dream though...

Actually that is the way many paths get started. Several MUPS paved MUPS here in Grand Rapids follow the 'shortcut' paths we used to use going to school, friends houses or to parks.

When I was a kid 12 or 13, (back in the early 70s) my brother and I made a path from our house on 48th street near eastern, along the creek to the old inter urban RR track (abandoned in the 50s I think), then we followed the tracks down to 60th st where a freind lived. I mean we MADE the trail, we cut trees and branches, even made two bridges out of skids and wood we found. Friends started to use it, then other friends, then everyone did. Now, 35 years later, there is a very nice MUP running through following the same exact path (has much nicer bridges now though) with an access coming out right where old house used to be. (seems to be all duplexes or condos there now)

Most often, if you don't cut through someones yard there isn't a problem with making a path. People in malls and most other commercial places are employees or customers, and don't know who owns the property you ride on so they typically don't say anything as long as you aren't being an ass.

Ken.
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Old 07-24-09, 10:51 PM
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I'm from eastern NC too, and encounter that kind of thing in both cities (New Bern and Wilmington) that I usually ride in. My typical approach is just to suck it up and deal, generally while being a little more assertive in traffic than I am on highways out of town.
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Old 07-29-09, 09:31 PM
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We're doing exactly that in Christiansburg, VA, where the Huckleberry Trail is being extended to run behind a row of big box stores, to end at the town hall and rec center. Currently it ends at the mall on the next block.

In Blacksburg, a not-so-bigbox center (1st & Main) was built recently, and the town wouldn't approve the plan without a bike trail running behind the property, connecting adjacent neighborhoods, and providing a parallel alternative to a busy road.

It's all about putting this stuff in the town/city/county code, and in the master plan before that, so intent for new development is expressed. The reason this doesn't happen is because no one steps up to do it.
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