The city of Shelbyville is embarking on an exciting new venture for the future that will have a positive impact on the health and vitality of citizens of the city and county. It is known (currently) as the Bike Trails Initiative and is a collaborative effort of the Shelbyville Parks and Recreation Department, the City of Shelbyville, and with citizen support through Community Aspiration. We would like to invite everyone to join this effort by adding your voice in support!
The Shelbyville Parks and Recreation Department will soon acquire a parcel of land for the development of a trailhead on North Harrison St., adjacent to and just north of the Blue River Bridge. This first phase will serve as the project catalyst which ultimately will connect the Babe Ruth Park on the west end, through Sunset Park, Kennedy Park, the Fairgrounds, and then Blue River Memorial Park on the east end with a multi-use trail, comprising almost 2.5 miles of trails along the Blue River.
The Trail System Project
The Community Pedestrian/Bicycle Trails System will be broken into three phases ultimately connecting all Shelbyville’s parks with a 10 foot wide path along the Blue River that is accessible for pedestrians, cyclists and meets ADA requirements with entrances into the downtown public square:
Phase one (West Reach see attached) will focus on acquiring a parcel of land (702 North Harrison St.) as a trail head reusing this blighted area as a gateway to Shelbyville. This will be a beautifully landscaped, shaded area for parking, bike rental and accessories. The trail head will also serve as an entrance to the Community Pedestrian/Bicycle Trails System. Phase one will be a beautiful, practical entrance to the Shelbyville Public Square connecting to Babe Ruth and Sunset Parks.
Phase 2 (Central Reach see attached) will connect Downtown Public Square to Kennedy Park (adding a second entrance/crossover along the Knauf property line) ending just before the fair grounds.
Phase 3 (East Reach see attached) will complete the entire Community Pedestrian/Bicycle Trail System ending at Progress Parkway connecting Blue River Park and the Shelby County Fairgrounds with Kennedy Park and the Trail head leading into downtown Shelbyville.
This Project will help to address the three global priorities significant to healthy communities in the following ways:
- Environment: Building an infrastructure that will offer residents a corridor for alternative transportation and will help to reduce the number of motorized vehicle us, therefore preserving our clean air and protecting our environment.
- Each motor trip that is switched to cycling or walking avoids releasing 2.6 grams of hydrocarbon, 367 gram of carbon dioxide, and 1.6grams of nitrogen oxides per passenger mile (2012 Green Communities Canada).
- Bicycling and walking can help to alleviate some of the negative effects of intense motorization, including traffic congestion, air pollution excessive noise, and destruction of the environment (2012 Green Communities Canada).
- If each resident of an American community of 100,000 replaced one car trip with one bike trip just once a month, it would cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 3.764 tons per year in the community (CompleteStreets.org).
- Education & Health: The Community Pedestrian/Bicycle Trail System is a collaborative effort between several entities in our community, such as Shelbyville Central Schools and a committee of parents and community leaders who have teamed up to create a comprehensive plan for safer routes for our children to walk and bike to school. Nationally, this Program was created as the Safe Routes to School Program in effort to create accessible routes for children to walk and bicycle to school.
- The decline in active travel to school has directly correlated with a rise in childhood obesity. During the past 40 years, U.S. childhood obesity rates have tripled, and more than 33% of children and adolescents are overweight, obese, or at risk of becoming so. www.bikesbelong.org
- Investing in community health through increased physical activity initiatives is investing in the community’s social capital. Social capital is the level of social activity and involvement or connectedness of members of a community (Folland, S. (2006)). The value of life and behavior towards health risks: An interpretation of social capital (Health Economics, 15, 159-171).
- How Exercise Promotes Learning In “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain”, Dr. John Ratey, Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, contends that “exercise is the single most powerful tool you have to optimize brain function.”
- Social Justice/Equality of Opportunity: Building an infrastructure that will offer residents a corridor for alternative transportation will also be a resource to those that may have no other means to travel to key destinations such as schools, work, grocery stores and more. The 18 projects included in the Phase 1 Plan will connect 90% of residents within 3 blocks of a bicycle or pedestrian facility. The People Trail Network is available for all ages and abilities and will bring all socioeconomic classes, ethnicities and diverse groups together to socialize, converse, and share a common interest. It involves access to an active transportation system “open to all”.
The goal of the Shelbyville Parks and Recreation is to create a Community Pedestrian/Bicycle Trail System that is within 3 blocks of 90% of City residents.