Bicycle trails are good for downtown

It is good to hear the recent discussion about the development of bicycle trails in Parkersburg and Wood County.

Planners from the city of Parkersburg, Wood County and volunteers have been developing several trails so our community can become more “bike friendly.”

Parkersburg city Councilwoman Kim Coram has tirelessly served as coordinator of the Wood County Alternative Transportation Council and the Parkersburg Bicycle Advisory Board.

So what’s the big deal about a bike trail? Is it really economic development? I mean, it’s not like a new business coming to town bringing more jobs, is it?

Well, actually, it is.

According to recent research, proximity to bike trails in urban areas increases property values, which in turn boosts the property tax-base. Money invested in public amenities often produces improved property values. And, as The Parkersburg News and Sentinel recently pointed out, investment leads to improved quality of life.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about what creates quality of life.

A recent Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Poll claimed that West Virginians lived in the most miserable state in the country. As I dug into this survey, I found that the poll’s “research” was nothing more than asking local residents how they felt about their state in several areas: liking what they did each day; having supportive relationships; managing economic life; liking the community where they live; and having good health and energy.

So what this poll really shows is we West Virginians don’t think as highly about our lives, communities, economic situation or health as other states do. Does that make West Virginia a miserable place to live or could it be that we seem to have a collective inferiority complex?

Have we, as a community or state, heard too many West Virginia jokes, and possibly started unconsciously believing them. I don’t know, but I’ll tell you what I do know.

I’m not from here. I chose to move here, and I love it. I love the community, the schools, the businesses, and the entertainment and recreational opportunities. And I love the people, even the few knuckleheads I’ve met.

I’ve lived in many places in the U.S. and I’m pretty confident that this is a great place to live. I don’t consider myself naive or gullible. I see plenty of problems, but I’m not interested in just complaining. The problems I see are not easy to fix, but they seem straight-forward. I think that, with the help of friends and neighbors, most of them can be solved.

But I have to do my part. And so do you.

So what does a bike trail have to do with a sense of well-being? I think a great deal. One success leads to another, even if it’s considered small by some. And, I think success is the best remedy for building self-worth.

My father-in-law, a native West Virginian, used to say that life is what’s happening while you’re standing around waiting for something to happen. We should never pass up a good thing while we’re waiting for a better thing.

Bicycle trails are a good thing. Frankly, they’re a big deal for this community.

Come see me. I’ll be in the lounge.

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Cecil Childress is general manager of the Blennerhassett Hotel and Chairman of Downtown PKB.