Biking

Bikes enjoy the trails on St. Simons Island.

A new local group plans to begin advocating for more biking and walking trails in the community.

Bike Walk Golden Isles is working now to bring together community members interested in supporting the construction of additional trails in this area as well as other bicycle and pedestrian advocacy.

Many parts of Glynn County are not pedestrian or biker friendly. This group hopes to change that.

Community leader Ben Slade has worked to establish Bike Walk Golden Isles and get the new group off the ground.

“I have a long standing interest in biking,” said Slade, at the group’s first organizational meeting in October. “I look back to the days when I grew up on Carpenter Street and what is now Wright Square — they tore my house down and built Glynn Middle School — but being able to bike around the city of Brunswick and go down to the library or down to the movie.”

He said he welcomes a return to those days.

Slade played a crucial role decades ago in raising the funding that paid for the trails along Frederica Road on St. Simons.

“I’ve been interested in trails since we did the master trail plan for St. Simons,” Slade said. “We have built almost $3 million in trails, and 95 percent of that money came from private philanthropy. The county only put $250,000 into those trails you see on St. Simons.”

Tremendous interest still exists among the philanthropic community to create a more bikable and walkable community, Slade said, as doing so creates social, economic and health benefits.

Brent Buice, the South Carolina and Georgia coordinator for the East Coast Greenway Alliance, talked with the meeting’s participants about what goes into running a local advocacy group. These groups can either have a specific goal, like creating a new bike path around the community, or a broader vision, such as creating a more bikable, walkable community.

He also shared an update on the progress of the East Coast Greenway.

The state of Georgia is far behind the progress made by other state involved in the East Coast Greenway project, which aims to build a 3,000 mile trail from Maine to Key West, Fla. About one-third of the entire greenway is completed so far. The project began in 1991.

“We know that greenways, the East Coast Greenway and greenways in general, are good for the environment because they encourage stewardship,” Buice said. “They get people out in to the beautiful natural places, spaces that we love, that we all cherish and enjoy about the low country, right? The marshes, the views, the water.”

Well-designed greenways can also reduce coastal flooding risks, Buice said.

“Here in Brunswick, the city has been very enthusiastic about building the Greenway,” he said. “Glynn County less so. But we do have a nice segment that’s called the Liberty Ships Trail that’s right alongside U.S. 17, and this is also part of the East Coast Greenway.”

Georgia Bikes, a nonprofit with an office in Savannah that aims to improve bicycling conditions and promote bicycling throughout the state of Georgia, is offering support and consultation the Bike Walk Golden Isles organizers.

Those interested in supporting Bike Walk Golden Isles can email bikewalkgoldenisles@gmail.com.

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