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Editorial, 1/5: Bike trails add to richness of life in Lincoln

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Cycling paths

Biking surged during the coronavirus pandemic, but it has long been a favored means of getting from one place to another or enjoying the great outdoors. Having a home within close proximity to trails, bike lanes, and other designated spaces to ride is convenient for bike enthusiasts and is associated with higher home prices.

One study found that being a quarter mile closer to an advanced bikeway in Portland, Oregon, translated to a $686 premium for a single-family home. Another report found the value of a median-priced home in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area increased by $510 for every 1,312 feet closer it is to an off-street bicycle facility.

Lots of big things contribute to a community's livability. Schools, businesses and jobs, good government, public services, health care access. 

Then there are some that matter a lot but might not be top of mind -- arts, shopping and sports, for watching and participating.

Lincoln has a lot going for it in all those categories. But it's important to note that the things that make the city special don't just happen. Many take conscious effort, hard work and planning.

One of those things -- Lincoln's top-notch trail system -- is a perfect example, as detailed in a Journal Star story by Peter Salter ("More mountain bike trails planned for Lincoln," Jan. 3).

Lincoln isn't any closer to the mountains than a year ago, but it is making mountain biking more accessible as it builds on the success of a volunteer-driven singletrack course in Van Dorn Park.

The Parks and Recreation Department is now looking at adding singletracks once it identifies locations, how to pay for them and who will maintain them. The Van Dorn Park singletrack started as a request and hard work from a university student and volunteers.

The 2-mile loop has been popular with the mountain bike crowd. And while they aren't cost-free or maintenance-free, they are lower impact than traditional paved trails while providing a challenging ride.

The city has plans, as well, for bridges and improvements to wider dirt trails and extensions and connections for it paved trail system.

In the age of COVID and social distancing, biking, hiking and strolling on the city's ever-growing 130 miles of dedicated trails is a perfect activity, allowing folks to be together, apart, active and the ventilation doesn't get any better.

The planning and the money the city puts in -- the volunteer efforts contributed, too -- are a worthy investment. It's unlikely anyone will relocate to Lincoln just for a bike trail. But the trail system is a thread in a rich tapestry that is the area's quality of life.

The trail system promotes fitness and fresh air for residents, and it just might be the thing to tip the scales when someone is thinking about where to put down roots with their family or a business.

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