Over at the TriangleBicycleCommuter blog I posted some things I recently learned about the Cary, NC greenways. But that information only seems interesting to people who would actually ride those particular greenways. So here for a wider audience I thought I would comment on the greenway system in general. I know other places have them but I don’t know how much they have in common.
Cary is a decent sized town, over 130,000 people, next to Raleigh, NC inside the triangle formed by Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill that is known as the Research Triangle Park. It is fairly hilly and that leads to having to plan for drainage for storm runoff. So some of the natural creek areas that are too subject to flooding to build on have had storm sewers added. Someone had the idea to turn these areas into long winding parks which are the greenways. The paths in the greenways are about 10 foot wide asphalt designed for mixed use. I see bikes, runners, and walkers on any decent day. A few of the runners have dogs with them and a majority of the walkers do. The greenways connect to city parks as well as at least one county park and one state park. One of the greenways I ride on my commute has a dog park and a skateboard park. There are many small wooden bridges that cross the creeks and one large steel and concrete bridge that cross US highways 1 and 64. The large bridge is on the Hinshaw Grenway and one side features a series of 3 or 4 switchbacks. I am going to take some chalk one day and label it Alp d’Hinshaw just for fun.
I really enjoy riding the greenways but I have come to realize that their are some cyclists who do not like them. They are the people who see every ride as training and do not like slowing down because the path is twisty or partially blocked by slower users. I think they also have a hard time adjusting to the fact that averaging 12 MPH on the greenways is actually fairly fast. To me that takes the same effort as averaging 18 MPH by yourself on more open roads. You are going to get little drafting advantage on the greenway.
The major advantages of no cars and a scenic ride for outweigh any missed training opportunities. I have discovered I much prefer to just ride than train anyway.
So do you have greenways in your area and if so what can you tell me about them?