Saturday, February 21, 2009

Beauty v. Utility

This Plain Dealer article from last month discusses the paved section of the Towpath Trail that runs behind the Steelyard Commons shopping center in an industrial area just outside of the Tremont neighborhood. The article criticizes this newer section for being "hard, mean and repellent" and looking like a "cattle chute." The above link to the article also contains a photo of the section in question.

The relevant issue here is whether we should spend the extra time and funds to create "beautified" trails or whether utilitarian trails are sufficient, especially if we can use the extra money saved by not fancying them up to built additional utilitarian trails.

It is true that the high fence running along both sides of the section at issue poses a security risk to trail users. Other than that fence issue, though, I'm not sure I see a need to make that section of the trail look park like or pristine. It runs along steel mills and other industrial buildings that create a gritty yet aesthetically attractive atmosphere that many people appreciate.

Let's focus our energy on creating more of these paths, not artificially perfecting the ones we have.


Ben said...

I completely agree. I'm happy to sacrifice "aesthetics and cultural values" for more bike trails. Safety (and this doesn't realistically strike me as an issue for the trails in question) is much more important to me than having them "pristine." An area with no trails at all is much more dangerous than a concrete trail.

JimmyNick said...

Not sure why they put the trail behind the shopping center when there's been a duplicative one in front of it for awhile now. Or maybe I should say I'm not sure why they put one in front if there was plans for one behind.
I would've rather seen the money that got pissed away on one (or both) of these paths be used to repave Harvard, near Jennings. You gotta navigate that Fallujah-like stretch to get from the Canal reservation to this Steelyard path, and it's close to unrideable.