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The BikeTexas Trail Doctors, Executive Director Robin Stallings and Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) all helped lead sessions at the Texas Trails Network’s State Trails Conference in November in San Marcos.
Stallings led a plenary session on Texas Bicycle Tourism Trails with Gina Donovan from the Friends of the Neches River Trail and Paul Douglas, state bicycle coordinator for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). They discussed opportunities for tourism trail development in Texas using the Texas Bicycle Tourism Trails legislation, cooperation between TxDOT and Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and eventual implementation of the program.
One of the major highlights of the conference was the arrival by bicycle of Senator Ellis, who rode his bike 35 miles from Austin to San Marcos to address conference attendees. Clad in lycra, Senator Ellis inspired the audience about bicycle tourism trails by discussing how they can benefit the health and economy of Texas communities.
The BikeTexas Trail Doctors were an integral part of the conference, teaching the entire outdoor tract. The seminar started with a 20-minute slide show and discussion on user conflict and how to improve user experience on a multi use trail system. One of the key items of discussion was having good sight lines so that users could identify each other sooner as they travel down the trail. Another big topic was trail flow or rhythm and how to control speed of the user in congested areas.
The outdoor session on day one was presented in two parts. In both, volunteers and trail professionals worked side by side to enhance a nature park owned by the city of San Marcos. Sections of trail were evaluated for line of sight issues and flow and improvements were made along the way. This was mainly achieved by trimming scrub bushes and non native species back from the trailside to allow longer sight lines. The crew also rerouted a section of trail that was eroding and extremely hard to ride on a bicycle. Staff and volunteers also looked at enhancing things from the hiker’s viewpoint and helped to clear out an area around an overlook.
The day-two session featured a slideshow to inform everyone at the conference of the work performed on Saturday and then a field trip to the site to see the results in person. Annie Melton of Bowman-Melton Associates commented that one of the best things about the trail improvements made the day before is that you couldn’t see evidence that the work had just been done.