Trail blazing debate in Golden

Singletrack sidewalks spark community debate

Posted 9/5/18

When he thinks about a singletrack sidewalk, Golden resident Al Head, one of the founders of the Golden Giddyup Trail Team, imagines local kids using it, riding their mountain bikes with big smiles …

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Trail blazing debate in Golden

Singletrack sidewalks spark community debate

Posted

When he thinks about a singletrack sidewalk, Golden resident Al Head, one of the founders of the Golden Giddyup Trail Team, imagines local kids using it, riding their mountain bikes with big smiles on their faces.

“We want a place where kids and beginners can be on their bikes on a dirt trail that was built specifically with their skills and progression in mind,” Head said.

But not everyone shares this vision when they think of singletrack sidewalks. For example, the Friends of Kinney Run imagine mountain bikers of all ages riding recklessly through the “serene open space at all hours of the day.”

“We are not anti-mountain bikers. We are pro open space,” said Golden resident Traci Neuman Lacey who is involved with Friends of Kinney Run. “If this pilot fails, it will be costly to repair. How can, and will, this land be restored?”

Whether opposed to or in favor of, singletrack sidewalks have been on the minds of Golden residents for a number of years.

A singletrack sidewalk is a natural surface trail built next to, or in close proximity of, an existing paved multiuse trail or bike path.

Though they are a relatively new concept across the nation, conversations about implementing a singletrack sidewalk in Golden began roughly following the opening of the Golden Bike Park — located in Tony Grampsas Park, 4471 Salvia St. — in 2010. It did not gain traction at the time, but was brought to city council again in 2012 and 2015.

In 2016, two groups — one on the north side of Golden and one on the south side — approached the city again about singletrack sidewalks. Golden’s Parks, Recreation & Museums Advisory Board then requested the groups work together on a combined proposal.

Fast-forward to January 2018 when the Golden Giddyup Trail Team submitted a revised, formal proposal to the city for a singletrack sidewalk pilot project to be located in south Golden. About 200 people attended an Aug. 28 Parks, Recreation & Museums Advisory Board meeting at Shelton Elementary School to discuss the proposal.

The proposed singletrack sidewalks pilot project would consist of six segments that vary in length, but total a little less than one mile, stretching from Apex Park to Sixth Avenue constructed alongside the existing multiuse trail on city property.

The singletrack sidewalk would be constructed by the Golden Giddyup Trail Team in partnership with neighborhood organizations and Golden’s Parks and Recreation Department.

“This is work we’ve done before with Jeffco Open Space,” Head said, adding the Golden Giddyup Trail Team is experienced and knowledgeable about what it would entail to build a trail for beginners. “The trail design can mitigate many of the concerns.”

Golden Giddyup is also offering to take care of ongoing maintenance of the singletrack sidewalk.

But Lacey argues that the Golden Giddyup is a volunteer group with no formal commitment to the city, and Friends of Kinney Run foresee that the new trail would eventually become the responsibility of the city.

Patrick Vitry, a volunteer park ranger for Jeffco Open Space who is involved with Friends of Kinney Run, points to more concerns brought up by neighbors. He believes the neighborhood and environmental impacts are the most concerning issues.

“This is not opinion, it’s a fact,” he said. “Building a trail would destroy the environment and interrupt wildlife.”

Ben Davis, another founder of the Golden Giddyup, pointed out that the Trails Team would take all precautions to minimize environmental impacts.

“We’re not looking to damage our neighborhoods,” he said. “This is an idea proposed by neighbors for our neighborhood and our community.”

Another argument is that the singletrack sidewalk would be redundant, located in an area that is not underserved, Vitry said. There are 230, or more, miles of trails in Jefferson County, he said.

“The existing trail system is adequate to meet the needs of multiuse trail users for a connection to nature,” Vitry said. “Riding on dirt does not change the nature experience.”

But Head points out that some mountain bike trails, such as on Apex or North Table Mountain, are too dangerous for young or beginner riders. Families want a place where they can share a passion of mountain biking with their children, Head said.

“There’s a long history of citizens asking for something like this in Golden,” he said. The intention, Head added, is to make it a “valuable, community entity.”

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