With Earth Day recently passed, I couldn’t help but celebrate the annual day by taking a bike ride down the beautiful Neuse River Greenway that sits just behind my house. Spring is my favorite time of year as the surrounding forest begins to come to life.
On my ride, I came across two seniors who were peering into the woods, and I stopped to inquire what they had seen. They turned with the excitement of a small child and explained a deer had jumped into the forest just moments before. As a frequent greenway visitor, seeing a deer isn’t a new experience for me. In fact, so often the birds and wildlife become routine visitors on the trips, however, it was special moment seeing the joy this couple experienced by witnessing our diverse wildlife in all its natural glory.
This week, I had a chance to attend a round table sponsored by the NC Trails Coalition to discuss how more funding can be created for trails and greenways. Secretary Tony Tata from NCDOT joined us in the afternoon to listen to the group. He is an advocate of greenways and often talks about choosing his house because it’s on a greenway in Cary. There are a lot of issues we talked about, however the main focus was on how to get the legislature to reinstate funding for bike/pedestrian projects throughout the state. Yes, the current legislature has taken away funding or made it significantly more difficult to build trails, greenways, or any bike or pedestrian infrastructure.
I never meet anyone in a bad mood on a greenway. Citizens always want more and most will agree that greenways significantly improve their quality of life. We can talk about how trails and greenways add to economic development, recreation, transportation, public heath, a cleaner environment, reduced stressed or just a general higher quality of life and quality of place. However, at the end of the day, I prefer to go back to the older couple on the greenway with the wonder and awe of a child possibly seeing a deer in the woods for the first time. As Earth Day this year passes us, the important thing to focus on for the future is the creation of more opportunities for that same type of user experience.