YPN Advocates for Trails and Connectivity, Bike Safety
By Savanah Mandeville
“The ultimate goal means that no matter where you live in the city or what your mode of transportation is, you can safely and easily get to your destination.”—Christina Williams, co-chair, Advocating for Trails and Connectivity
Advocating for Trails and Connectivity
Coming off the heels of the Recycle Joplin Initiative, the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals Network has set its sights on a new ecofriendly project.
The group, which comprises members of the business community between the ages of 21 and 40, is moving forward with an initiative known as Advocating for Trails and Connectivity. It’s being led by the Community Impact workgroup.
“Advocating for our trails and connectivity is about both economic development and improving quality of life,” said Christina Williams, co-chair for the project and executive committee member for Community Impact. Williams is also the YPN member who spearheaded the initiative to bring curbside recycling to Joplin.
“Having a connected community that’s easy and fun to get around is very appealing to companies that are trying to recruit younger workers with young families.”
The mission statement for the project is: Support the expansion of existing trails and bike routes into a sustainable system of transportation and recreation that links neighborhoods, parks and urban areas across the city and beyond.
The group has a range of short- and long-term goals to bring the mission to life.
First, they have a new, monthly column in The Joplin Globe to promote bike safety, trail usage and local events.
In the future. YPN would like to see the entire community be accessible by bike or on foot.
“When we say ‘improving connectivity,’ the ultimate goal means that no matter where you live in the city or what your mode of transportation is, you can safely and easily get to your destination whether that be grocery shopping or your job or the park,” Williams said. “So it’s not just about trails or biking and running recreationally, it’s a full approach.”
Williams cited local studies that propose certain roads – Fourth Street, for instance – as good candidates for a “road diet,” meaning traffic counts show these roads could be modified to support a divided bike lane or regular bike lane. She also said there are multiple opportunities to connect more residential roads to trails.
A long-range goal would be to eventually connect Joplin’s trail system to Northwest Arkansas trails.
“There’s already a lot happening in McDonald County to do the same thing, so that involves connecting trails through Jane and Anderson and Noel and those areas, then the next stop would be Neosho and the next stop would be Joplin.”
The goal for the interim is expanding existing trails in Joplin, notably mountain bike trails. She said Mark Cox, owner of Blues Bike Co., got permission from the city to build a mountain bike trail at Dover Hill. There are also tentative measures taking place to secure what’s unofficially known as Hill Top Trail for public use. Combined, the two projects would result in 10 miles of mountain bike trail for the community.
May is National Bike Month
YPN is donating 100 bicycle helmets and locks to Watered Gardens, Lafayette House and Soul’s Harbor during National Bike to Work Week, May 13-19.
Williams and members of YPN want to see folks taking advantage of our trails and getting around the city on two wheels, but they want to make sure people are doing so safely.
That’s why they are raising money to donate 100 helmets and bike locks to those in need.
Williams came up with the idea one morning while biking to work.
“I ride to work sometimes, and the route I take is through a lower-income area, and I see people riding bikes every day, and they never have helmets on,” she said. “If someone’s bike is their only means of transportation, they need a helmet and a good way to lock up their bike and keep it safe.”
YPN will donate the helmets and locks to Watered Gardens, Lafayette House and Soul’s Harbor during National Bike to Work Week, May 13-19.
The items will be given to anyone in need along with information on how to properly use them.