Thursday, July 12, 2012

Bicyclists Getting A Little More Respect This Year From DOT

Last Saturday when I biked over to the Japanese Summer Festival, I noticed that for once, the Department of Transportation was thinking about cyclists and even gave us some benefits cars didn't get.  I knew there was construction on the Campbell Creek trail under the Seward Highway and at Dowling and I decided to take surface streets to avoid that.  But going south on C Street from Tudor, I saw there was a detour at Potter.

BUT, while cars were forced to go right or left because C Street was closed, the bike path on the west side of C Street was open, allowing me to keep to my route.  And it was marked too.  This is something that didn't use to happen.  But clearly someone had to have thought about this and said, "Well, we can leave the bike trail open."  Hey, humor me, I measure progress in very small increments.

On the way home, without having to worry about time, I picked up the Campbell Creek trail at its terminus near Dimond High School. 

The cow parsnip was in full bloom along the path.  This picture of the creek along the trail should give you a sense why I was willing to add a mile to my (now seven mile) trip back to be on the trail instead of the city streets. 

Under Minnesota the creek had flooded and the trail was covered in mud and water.  Fortunately there were some drier spots (on the left.)

But then it was beautiful again.

At Taku Lake  (I posted a video of the beaver I saw there already), there was also this duck dock right near the trail. So much nicer that navigating the sidewalks and intersections. 

But soon I was nearing Dowling and getting curious how I was going to get past the construction.  I needn't have worried.  There was a big sign blocking the path, but pointing out a detour.  In the past, there just would have been a sign blocking the path with no help for the cyclist to navigate around the blockage.  But this detour led to the construction site (Dowling Road) where a flagger got me and a pedestrian past the heavy equipment and around to another flagger who directed me to more signs that led me easily back to the bike path.

At Old Seward Highway, after the Arctic Road Runner near the Peanut Farm, the signs aren't quite as helpful.  There they say the trail is blocked at Seward Highway and direct you to take Tudor or Dowling.  There, you really have to know how to find the bike trail yourself.  You have to wander through the neighborhoods to pick it up after the creek crosses under the New Seward Highway, where they are widening the road and raising the bridges over the creek and where, by the end of next summer they say, there will be a real bike trail under the highway.  Now, from Tudor, looking south, the construction looks like this.

When the trail goes under Dowling and New Seward when this construction is done, you'll be able to bike from Dimond and Northwood to University Lake between APU and the Native Hospital (about 7.5 miles) with only having to cross one street (Lake Otis).  It mostly follows Campbell Creek going under or over bridges at other roads.   And I found this cool 2009 video by MijelRiak that takes you on the trail from New Seward Highway to Dimond and Northwood.  (Where the video crosses the street is Dowliing, where the construction is now.)


  1. Okay – thanks for clarifying what those ginormous plants are, I was under the mistaken assumption they were Devil’s Club. Just had an Alice-in-Wonderland hike through some amazingly huge groves of it, and had studiously avoided coming into contact with it, which as it turns out was a good thing anyways.

  2. Jamie, I did a long post on Cow Parsnip (including comparing it to Devil's Club), several years ago. That led to a kid in Juneau asking permission to use one of the photos for his science project testing whether Cow Parsnip could be used to kill mosquito larvae. We were in Juneau then so I have a post on him explaining his exhibit.

  3. HI Steve,

    As always, a very interesting piece on bicycling in Anchorage.
    I don't ride a bicycle but I have great respect for people who do. A younger couple who lives across the street from us are dedicated bicyclists as an alternative to cars and ride their bikes to work all Winter. They also ride their young child to a local elementary school on a tandem bike, back and forth, all Winter!

    I believe they are both very active with a local group called "BCA," ('Bicycle Commuters of Anchorage').

    (Steve, I hope the weather gets better some day! Then we could do a photographic trip to Far North Bicentennial Park or something!).

    Doug Brown.


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