I go to a lot of meetings, as someone who is interested in improving my community and willing to serve on committees. Sometimes I have trouble getting excited about a particular meeting, which is what happened when I recently agreed to attend a public input session for updating the Growth Policies Plan for Bloomington. I am fascinated by urban growth and excited to have a voice but it was the third night in a row of rushing home for dinner before heading out the door to yet another meeting…
Happily, I had a very nice time talking with a few fellow Bloomingtonians about the future of our fair city. We were asked to brainstorm words & phrases that describe our city now and our hopes for Bloomington in the future. The word cloud shown is our ideas for the future, and you can see how Will and I influenced our little group.
Okay, granted “sustainability” is pretty tiny but you can clearly see how we’ve been thinking about walking as a main form of transportation, both as a way to reduce our carbon footprint and to increase our general health. We also mentioned better public transit, better access to trails, better opportunities for business development, and how to better integrate our diverse population that ranges from university students to retirees.
Will has been walking close to 20 miles a week and I hope to catch up with him when I end my contract in Columbus. We also want to start biking more and are excited that the B-Line Trail is now complete and fairly close to our house. However, access is still a big issue, especially in our neck of the woods where there are no side paths for a couple of miles. It’s quite a design challenge, really. The B-Line Trail used to be a railroad so naturally all the houses and businesses turned their backs to it and often put up fences to try and screen out the passing trains. Now it’s a bustling trail filled with potential customers and businesses further north (in the downtown area) are adding patio areas, “walk-thru” windows, and back entrances that attract trail users. Our neck of the woods is mainly residential with a few spurts of industrial/warehouse areas, which means there is less incentive to open up to the trail. (In the image shown, our house is the yellow star and the B-Line Trail is the long green line on the right. Our closest access point is the railroad spur heading southeast that is marked with a dashed yellow line. However, if we are headed north (towards downtown), we often walk one block further north on Rogers Street and cut straight east at Hillside.)
I am serving on yet another committee that is looking at how to develop the surrounding area into a park and I am hopeful we will be able to come up with some realistic access points to solve this dilemma. For now, it’s easy for us to get on the trail to head north (towards downtown) but if we want to go south (towards Will’s business partners), we have to go up and then back down again. Still, we’re glad to have the B-Line and are excited to see Bloomington get even better for walkers and bikers.