Syracuse is getting a huge improvement to its transportation system. Three interlocking projects pursued by three different levels of government are making it safe, easy, and convenient to travel by bike around the metro area. The Creekwalk, Loop the Lake Trail, and Erie Canalway are fantastic projects that will make Syracuse a better place to live.
Syracuse’s topography poses unique challenges to people trying to get around town by bike. It’s a hilly city, and the easiest route between any two points follows the level valleys that criss cross town. Those routes are flat, so they’re good for biking.
But, paradoxically, these routes are also often very bad for biking because they see so much car traffic. These streets have often been widened to accommodate 4 lanes of car traffic (but not enough for two lanes of bike traffic), and cars whiz along them at unsafe speeds that repel people who aren’t travelling with the protection of a 2-ton steel cage.
There’s no good way around this. You can’t just bike on a quieter street that’s parallel to Erie—there isn’t one! Bikers have to choose between exposing themselves to bodily harm on dangerous streets, riding on busted up sidewalks (when they exist and are clear of snow), or pedaling up and down extremely steep hills. This basic logic applies to major crosstown corridors across the City, and it’s a major barrier to mobility.
The Creekwalk, Loop the Lake Trail, and Erie Canalway remove that barrier by putting dedicated bike (and foot!) paths along those major routes. These paths are almost fully separated from car traffic, so they’re safe, and they follow level water routes, so they’re easy to bike on.
And what’s more, they’re connected! Anyone who can get to any of these trails can get to all of them. That puts so much of the region within safe and easy biking distance of so many people.
This is a transportation game changer. Where biking across town used to require strong legs and a high tolerance for physical danger, now it will be safe and convenient. That’s good for people who already bike around (like the workers who ride from the Northside to Baldwinsville at night), and it will open up a new option for people who might have been put off of biking before. The result is a better City that offers more options for everybody.