The Kewannee Trail is a 1.7 mile shared-use path that travels along a creek easement through the English Woods and Indian Woods subdivisions.
At its east end, it connects to Cassel Creek Blvd., a road that comes off Hwy 436 and dead-ends in a condo complex. Points of interest at the corner of Cassel Creek and 436 are Hooters and the Semoran Skateway. The Skateway is a family destination, and the path connection provides a way to get to it via quiet streets, from all the Maitland neighborhoods.
Near its mid-point the path runs through Kewannee Park—a nice little commons, with a wetland nature trail, picnic area, playground and pond. It doesn’t provide much additional bicycle connectivity to this park from the nearby neighborhoods. It’s somewhat redundant to the residential streets, but it’s certainly good for skate-boarding, dog-walking, etc.
One of the things I like about this path is that it provides bicycle permeability to Wilshire Blvd. Using the path to get there from those neighborhoods is definitely faster and more pleasant than the alternative—Hwy 436. Since David’s World bike shop is located at Wilshire and 436, I used to use it a lot (before I moved).
Of course, the designers of this path did not create a seamless, easy connection to Wilshire. That would have required them to actually consider the bicycle a vehicle. The path connects to Wilshire via a concrete walkway and a narrow opening in a gate, with 2 bollards placed in the way for an added challenge. Because, OMG, someone might try to drive a vehicle onto the trail!
Well, at least it doesn’t close at sunset, like the 434 tunnel.
The west end of the path dead-ends abruptly at Oxford Road. No effort has been made to integrate it into the road system (at either end). It dumps users onto a narrow sidewalk, making it difficult to access the road.
This is where I become very frustrated with the builders of these facilities. Every time a path is terminated this way, it sends a message that undermines the pyramid. The end of this trail screams, “Bicycles are toys! Bicycles belong on the sidewalk!” That message is received by the parents and children who use it. It becomes more deeply embedded in our culture as those people take it into their cars with them.
And why would they be encouraged to use anything other than their cars to run errands? Nothing about this path design suggests transportation. It is built as a place to play with your toys. Those of us who use parts of it as a transportation facility discovered that benefit by accident.
Facility design doesn’t have to be this way. It would be very easy to do it right. But the designers and public policy makers need to be educated. The toy bicycle culture needs to be replaced by respect for bicycles as vehicles and cyclists as drivers.