Sunset the Urban Trails Master Plan

by Tom Burrows
April 7, 2014

Trails activists claim their private property acquisition wishlist is merely "lines on a map" that property owners need not take seriously as a threat and the trails activists themselves won't be taking seriously until some point in the distant future. I do not believe either of these claims.

  1. The first time I learned of the Urban Trails Master Plan was when trails activists tried to use it to pressure me into allowing my back yard to be bulldozed for one of their projects. Talk about viewshed spoilage! If the quantity and quality of users were going to be anything like those who have ruined the upper Ribbon Trail trailhead area with off-trail trampling, the land would be destroyed. These are indeed not just "lines on a map;" and this was a couple of years ago, not the time in the distant future they talk about.

    The trails activists do not have condemnatory powers in courts of law (at least not now and not out in the County); but that hasn't stopped them from using the "lines on the map" as leverage against property owners in courts of public opinion. In the incident to which I am referring, the activists assembled focus groups and pandered a "vision" of playing on other people's property; and the property owners found out later and by accident that their "property was being eyed" (as the media put it).

  2. Considering the trails activists' demonstrated levels of adrenaline, I do not believe they are happy in their current mode of having to sit still for decades or generations waiting for property owners to literally die off and be replaced by new owners whose arms can be more easily twisted. I am concerned that they will get very tough on property owners if and when they succeed in their attempts to elect a more "progressive" (or as I would put it, "collectivist") Board of Commissioners.

While sunsetting the Urban Trails Master Plan is a giant step for property rights, there are still some remaining bugs in the Mesa County Specifications. The foundation of the County's plan for non-motorized transportation has been to provide a debris lane for knobby-tire bikes and no provision for high-pressure tire road bikes. The latter generally prefer to ride in auto lanes to take advantage of the sweeping effect of car tires. Take a look at how the Monument Road debris lanes are being avoided by road cyclists. I call these "debris lanes" instead of "bike lanes" because one finds more debris there than bikes.

And then there's the chipseal, which one of my friends described as "paving the road with goatheads."

© 2014 Thomas Burrows. All rights reserved.

An electronic copy of this article and more papers detailing why "bikeways" are not the solution, can be found at