Riding the Fox Cities – June

June has come and gone, summer is officially here, and yes, it’s a great time to ride in the Fox Cities.

In all honesty, I haven’t been doing much riding in the Fox Cities this past month. Summer is also the time for family vacations, so I and my family did exactly that. For this vacation we also packed our bikes, so we had an opportunity to experience cycling outside the Fox Cities. One of our first experiences was Montreal, Canada.
20160604_222513
I went on a solo ride the night we arrived to scope out the family friendliness of the bike infrastructure. I recalled that during my last trip to Montreal I really enjoyed the Bixi bike share program and the many bike lanes throughout the city. However, I didn’t recall how many of those routes would feel as nice with children in tow. I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was a protected bike lane (separated by curbing from car traffic) that went from our hotel location down to the waterfront. The above picture shows one of the intersections that was clearly marked to help remind cars of the bike crossing – even though bikes had their own traffic signal. Satisfied with the bike route, I was ready to venture out with the family the next morning.
20160605_091022
I thought the bike route was perfect, but by morning it got even better. Out trip coincided (or did it??) with the Go Bike Montréal festival, which featured the Tour de l’Île de Montréal. Basically, many streets were closed so that thousands of cyclists could tour the city. Cyclists spanned age groups and bike tribes (casual, commuters, roadies, etc.) and the ride had an overall festive feel. We still rode in our protected bike lane (because we could), but we were only being protected from fellow bikers at the moment.

On the way back car traffic had resumed. However, having the protected bike lane still provided the same level of comfort. The next day when we wanted to return to the waterfront we gave the kids the options to walk, take metro, or ride bike and they chose to bike. And even my wife who is especially, let’s say cautious, felt at ease. It was a reminder of how right biking can feel even within a busy city with proper infrastructure. It motivates me to some day have this same experience in Appleton. I can only imagine how cool it would be to bike down College Avenue in a protected bike lane checking out all the store fronts and easily crossing between downtown destinations.

Several days later I was back in the U.S. and had the opportunity to bike through Acadia National Park in Maine. The park has a network of Carriage Roads that are open to bikers, hikers, and of course horse carriages. The roads offer amazing views as they pass ponds, lakes, and mountain overpasses with bridges and waterfalls along the way. Acadia is known for it’s hikes, but if you have the chance, you should definitely save a day for biking.
20160609_13432520160609_130837

 

20160609_12222820160609_121334

 

I missed Canada, so eventually we snuck back in at Niagara Falls. The Niagara River Recreation Trail runs 56 KM along the river on the Canadian side including the main falls area. Although the area immediately near the falls can be busy, travelling farther along the river in either direction is easy and enjoyable.
20160613_15530720160613_114006

The hardest part was navigating the two blocks to get to the path. In fact, I may have briefly exited the country and re-entered by going the wrong way back out the exit. Don’t tell anyone. In the end, it was nice to get outside of the main tourist epicenter and see some of the surrounding areas. We also had fun avoiding sprinklers in one of the parks. Hint: The key is to take it head on and step directly over the sprinkler head.

20160613_154400

Finally sneaking under the “scene of the crime” bridge

Overall, the trip helped me appreciate some of the cycling progress we have made in the Fox Cities over the past decade. We have new bike lanes, off-road paths such as CE Trail, Newberry Trail, East River Trail, and more. We also have more remote trails such as the Wiowash and Friendship trail. You can find these and other trails, including maps, on our links page. Of course, we still have some work to do. I look forward to the day we close the streets for the Tour de Appléton and I see families riding downtown carefree.

I hope to return to more Fox Cities riding in July, and I hope to see you out there! As always, you can check out FCCA rides and events on our Events page. Happy Riding!

-Scott

Leave a Reply