Opponents and proponents alike showed for a public meeting on August 28 in Golden, Colorado to share opinions on the Singletrack Sidewalks program, a project that would build accessible trails for beginner mountain bikers.
Singletrack sidewalks are intended mainly for youth as a more friendly way to try mountain biking or commute through their neighborhoods. The natural trail would be placed next to a sidewalk for most of its length, is generally flat, and would connect Zeta Street to Sixth Avenue in Golden. In total, the six segments of trail are estimated to cover just over 1.25-miles in length.
Although the proposal seems fairly harmless, resistance and opposition formed quickly.
Negative impacts on the environment, increased traffic in the area, hiker or walker and biker conflict, noise pollution, and adults using the trail were all cited as concerns.
“There is a significant risk that the expert mountain bike community is going to use these trails and cause further destruction in the natural area,” said Patrick Vitry in an interview with Singletracks. He also cited concerns about wildlife.
“Building a trail through an erodible park where there are elk and deer that actively calve in that area is going to negatively impact the area.”
Vitry’s neighbors described him as an “avid cyclist.” He showed to the event to speak on behalf of the opposition group, Friends of Kinney Run.
“Some of the promises being made by the organization to build the trails don’t have the backing that they need or the commitment to maintain the trails,” said Vitry.
Traci Lacey, a resident of a local Golden neighborhood started the presentation for Friends of Kinney Run.
“We are not anti-mountain bikers, we are pro-open space and we want to preserve the natural habitat that surrounds our areas,” said Lacey before passing the microphone to Vitry.
“This is a redundant trail system. There’s a perfectly good path that goes down our neighborhood that anyone can use and doesn’t erode,” said Vitry referencing the paved Kinney Run bike path.
Although Vitry said he understood the type of trail being proposed, some of his comments during the presentation indicated otherwise.
“Let’s just hypothetically say that the word gets out on Facebook, that the best bike park in town is right here in the backside of Golden. Guess who’s going to be parking in your neighborhood?”
The Golden Giddyup says that the design of the trails will mitigate irresponsible trail users. It will be mostly flat, and sometimes rolling terrain, without long run outs, and with a lot of turns built in to slow riders down.
“A beginner trail can be designed in a way that has a lot of sinuosity, a lot of curvature, and that both makes it fun and interesting, but it also helps slow traffic, which is a concern I know a lot of folks have,” said Al Head of the Golden Giddyup.
These designs suggest it would cater to slower riders, although there is no foolproof way to ensure that irresponsible mountain bikers won’t ride it, as is the case with any trail.
Eagle, Colorado was one of the country’s first towns to build singletrack sidewalks in 2015 after it passed a unanimous vote. Luis Benitez, the director of the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office based out of Eagle, was at the meeting in Golden to speak favorably about Eagle’s experience with the project. He remembers talking to a young mountain biker who wanted trails that were more fun to ride versus a paved path.
“I’m sick and tired of my mom and dad posting pictures of them riding dirt, and I have to ride a sidewalk to school,” said Benitez, quoting the young mountain biker.
Benitez says the town was able to work through wildlife and cattle concerns to accommodate the project in Eagle as well.
The city of Golden is not setting a timeline to approve the project and is still accepting public input via the Guiding Golden website. Once the Parks, Recreation, and Museums Advisory Board has enough input, they will make a recommendation to the city council. The board will continue to investigate possible environmental and economic impact before making a decision.
A study session open to the public, but without public input will be held on September 11 and a board meeting that allows public input will be held on September 18.