All Hail the Creeper Trail

The Virginia Creeper Trail is arguably the most beloved bicycle trail in Virginia. But it wasn’t always so. As Bill Lohmann reminds us in the Times-Dispatch, many landowners along the trail, which was built upon an abandoned railroad bed, opposed its development in the 1980s. Writes Lohmann:

One group filed a lawsuit. Others placed logs and hay bales across the trail and locked public gates. One farmer put a bull in a field next to the trail and posted a sign warning, “Cross at your own risk.”

By the mid-1990s, when the trail had opened and the world hadn’t come to an end, Lohmann says, a survey of property owners showed that 75% approved of it. That number might well be higher today. Many who live on the trail enjoy it as a recreational amenity. The community as a whole in Abingdon and Washington County certainly loves the trail, which has become a significant visitor attraction and revenue generator.

Tastes are changing. People place a higher value on cycling amenities than they did in the past. Bicycle access increases property values. Higher property values makes people happy.

– JAB

3 Responses to All Hail the Creeper Trail

  1. many, if not most, established bicycle trails in Va have a history of landowner opposition.

    Sometimes, it’s massive but more often it’s one or two or small group that are dead set against it…sometimes even people who do not even own land that will be crossed, used by or adjacent to the trail itself.

    Make no mistake. These folks can and do stop proposed trails dead in their tracks.

    But we also know that such trails do exist and did overcome landowner opposition.

    Sometimes it’s because of dogged persuasiveness and sometimes it’s with the govt holding a big stick….

    but when we talk about bike trails – we need to be clear and unequivocal about the TYPE & PURPOSE of the trail.

    Recreational trails are not for utility transportation – for the most part although some creative people who happen to live near a trail that can get them to another destination like work or similar will use them as such.

    It’s highly doubtful that anyone uses the Creeper Trail in that way.

    but bike trails to serve utilitarianly (is that a word?) as a mode of transportation run into the very same landowner problems sometimes.

    It’s ironic that when a new road or road widening is proposed that landowners can (and do) oppose it but ultimately the road is approved and the land taken – and this is the key phrase – “for a public purpose”.

    so.. I’m blathering here… but my point is that bike trails can and do serve a legitimate public purpose just as roads do and yet – we treat them as if they are “recreational” amenities and not a legitimate mode of transport.

    we need to change this.

  2. There are several bike lanes down here in Tidewater that could be used for commuting. I hardly ever see a bike on them. Every morning I pass a black guy riding his bike to work on a very narrow road with deep ditches. I keep expecting to see him end up dead in the morning darkness.

  3. There are several bike lanes down here in Tidewater that could be used for commuting. I hardly ever see a bike on them. Every morning I pass a black guy riding his bike to work on a very narrow road with deep ditches. I keep expecting to see him end up dead in the morning darkness.

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