Bike path encourages healthy interactions

12 years ago

Bike path encourages healthy interactions


by Martin Puckett

    Presque Isle’s current Pedestrian/Bike Pathway connects the city with over six miles of paved surface. This pathway is interwoven within our sidewalks and roadways, providing people with an alternative mode of transportation. The pathway is designed to connect our schools, colleges, parks, neighborhoods, fairground and downtown.

    In the past few decades more and more cities and towns have invested in these pathways for a variety of reasons. Some communities create them to promote a healthy lifestyle, allowing residents to skateboard, rollerblade or bicycle off of a roadway. Some use it as a way to reduce automotive dependence by encouraging people to walk rather than drive. Some invested in a pathway to increase the foot traffic of the downtown. Some other communities formed a pathway out of concern for the safety of children walking to school.

    Kent Robertson, a professor at St. Cloud State University and champion of pathways and downtowns, claimed a pathway’s unintended consequence had the largest impact. His research concluded that the increased number of people that are walking or biking around in a city increases people’s opportunities to have interactions with one another. The increased occurrence of people talking with one another encourages the development of a greater sense of community. How many times have you walked on the pathway and stopped to have a conversation, or just be neighborly and say hello? That wouldn’t happen if you were driving in a car! Robertson held: “The more people on foot, the greater the opportunities for social contact and interaction, thus promoting a greater sense of community.”

    For Presque Isle, the pathway has allowed residents to walk their dogs, shop, eat in the downtown, and relax, away from passing traffic. Local business employees use the path during lunch breaks to stretch out their legs. The pathway has served as a platform for races that have served as local fundraisers (and lactate threshold induced, gasping workouts). Children use the pathway to go back and forth from school, home and parks. University students travel on it to get a bite to eat and see a movie. The pathway also serves as a significant resource for those individuals without an automobile who need to get groceries or other basic needs.

    The city has invested in the pathway many years ago for these many reasons. The pathway falls within the priorities of the current draft of the city’s Strategic Plan. Three of those priorities are: to protect and enhance the quality of life for Presque Isle residents by developing points of pride in our community; encourage and engage the community in an active lifestyle through collaborative efforts; and preserve and reinvest in the economic, aesthetic and cultural future of Presque Isle by promoting viability and liveliness of the downtown district.

    Please get out and enjoy the pathway and help add to the character of Presque Isle!

    Martin Puckett is Presque Isle’s deputy city manager. He can be reached at 760-2780 or via e-mail at