How trails are connecting cities.

While the Atlanta Beltline and Silver Comet Trail are the most high-profile multi-use trails in Georgia, dedicated pathways for walking, jogging and biking now crisscross the state. Communities are pursuing linear parks to encourage exercise, promote alternative transportation and connect residents to their favorite spots in their cities.

The popularity of the rails-to-trails movement is a reminder that the success of these projects is more about the journey than the destination. Author and landscape architect Randall Arendt called greenways “an essential component of truly civilized, healthful community design,” in the Congress for New Urbanism’s Public Square journal.

“However, even when a site is level and virtually featureless, a touch of imagination and a strong interest in providing green connections are all that are needed to produce a community layout that rises well above the distinctive new urban pattern of blocks and neighborhoods,” Arendt said.

The city of Newnan’s LINC multi-use trail is designed to connect historic downtown west of Interstate 85 to the new growth east of I-85. The first 1.4 miles of LINC opened in 2019, with a pedestrian bridge following in January 2021. The second phase will bring the constructed mileage up to 5 miles.

The glowing blue “NEWNAN” on the pedestrian bridge spanning I-85 highlights the union formed by LINC—which is not an acronym but a nod to the links created by the trail.

“Not only has it renewed an interest in wellness overall for members of our community—visitors and residents alike—it’s actually created a connection opportunity,” said Newnan Assistant City Manager Hasco Craver.

That said, LINC is a trail for casual exercise rather than transportation. Picture moms with strollers, retired couples, and leisure cyclists who seek uninterrupted trails. With that audience in mind, the city decided not to allow motorized vehicles, Craver said.

Kim Learnard, director of Friends of LINC in Newnan, lives in Peachtree City, which made a name for itself by creating over 100 miles of golf-cart-friendly multi-use paths. She said the use of a trail system is designed to meet the unique needs of each community. In Newnan, “It’s better without the golf carts,” she said. “They have a much stronger, much more robust bicycle community.” Running groups, friend groups and even yoga studios use LINC for gathering and socializing. Friends of LINC holds events and promotes the trail to increase awareness in the community. The group also raises funds to enhance the trail with amenities and public art.

“Having that advocacy arm is beneficial,” Craver said of Friends of LINC. “Anyone that is ever considering a path system like this, I would encourage a friends’ group,” he said, adding that the group’s mission should be tailored to each community’s particular needs.

A total of 26 miles is planned for LINC. Though only 1.4 miles has been constructed, Learnard said it is already impacting economic development.

“Real estate people are very interested to know where the trail is and where it is headed in the future, because it really does increase property values,” Learnard said.

In addition to the economic, health, environmental and community benefits of multi-use trails, there is the potential to connect cities and even different regions of the state. The Chattahoochee RiverLands Greenway Study released in 2020 proposes 125 miles of uninterrupted multimodal trails from Buford Dam to Chattahoochee Bend State Park, encompassing a network of greenways, blueways and destinations.

Led by the Atlanta Regional Commission, The Trust for Public Land, Cobb County and the city of Atlanta, many Georgia cities are part of a stakeholder group created in 2018. The Sugar Hill trailhead near Ga. 20 would be the northernmost entrance to the RiverLands and would connect to the Sugar Hill Greenway, according to the most recent design.

The National Park Service released a draft trails master plan for the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area that omits sections of the Chattahoochee RiverLands.

This story originally appeared in the May/June 2021 edition of Georgia’s Cities magazine.

Ready, Set, LINC!

Friday, May 7, 2021 at 4 PM- 8 PM
Located at the Newnan Centre, 1515 Lower Fayetteville Rd in Newnan.

Free and open to the public, this block party style event will feature DJ music, food trucks, T-shirts, Touch-A-Truck, vendor exhibits, bicycle demonstrations, a rock climbing wall, and much more. Come one, come all!

LINC Bridge Ribbon Connecting

January 19, 2021 – Mayor Keith Brady joined Friends of LINC’s Parks Avery for a ribbon connecting event in celebration of the new LINC bridge. Conceptually connecting east and west hemispheres of the City, the bridge spans more than 180 feet over Interstate 85. We can now walk, run, or bike from Summergrove all the way to Ashley Park. Congratulations to all!

The LINC bridge construction is completed!

The LINC bridge construction is completed! Approach trails on both ends are now paved and fenced. Contractors are actively working to paint the LINC green crosswalks to signify that you are, literally, on the right path! The new distance, from the terminus of Phase 1 at Summerlin Road, to the end of this new section at Ashley Park Drive, is approximately 0.6 miles. The path takes you around the Promenade Apartments, over the Interstate, around Cancer Treatment Centers of America, and parallel with McIntosh Parkway all the way to Ashley Park Drive. Watch for news of the official opening of the trail and a ribbon cutting, later this month!

LINC Phase 2: Construction is now underway

The City of Newnan has awarded the construction contract for the next section of the LINC multiuse path system to Lewallen Construction. Phase 2 of the LINC will ultimately connect the current terminus of Phase 1 to downtown Newnan. Phase 2 will add 3.4 miles to the current 1.4 miles of trail.

The LINC is a 12-foot-wide paved path, a venue for walking, running, bicycling and other non-motorized use.

The construction contract is for a portion of Phase 2, referred to as Section D. Section D will connect the current terminus of LINC Phase 1, Newnan Crossing Blvd. at Summerlin Road, to McIntosh Parkway at Ashley Park Drive. This includes the bridge over Interstate 85.

“This is a pivotal addition to the LINC,” states Kim Learnard, Director of Friends of LINC, Inc. “The bridge over I85 will connect east and west hemispheres, and lend visibility and excitement to the entire project.”

Construction started earlier this month at the east end of Section D, along McIntosh Pkwy.

According to Jonathan Cash, Project Manager for Lewallen, the bridge will be installed as one of the last stages of section D. It is scheduled to be placed in August. “These trail systems are about bringing communities together and after everything settles down, they will be essential in helping those communities reconnect.” he observes.

Section D construction is anticipated to be completed in the fall.


Considering an E-Bike? What you need to know …

E-bikes are bicycles with a battery-powered “assist” that comes via pedaling, When you push the pedals on a pedal-assist e-bike, a small motor engages and gives you a boost, so you can zip up hills and cruise over rough/tough terrain without gassing yourself. E-bikes get more people riding more often by eliminating some of the biggest obstacles to riding a bicycle. A lot of people think E-bikes are just a passing trend, but they're practical, reliable, and loads of fun – surely they are here to stay!
E-bikes are used for riding anywhere, in the city, on a multipurpose trail, for commuting, or on mountain bike trails. The target customer for e-bikes is a diverse one, as the electric bike market is an extensive group of customers with a wide variety of needs. These riders can range from a pure commuter who is looking to save on gas, parking, and car maintenance, to the rider who, for health reasons, cannot ride with the same amount of effort as they could in years past. As they are practical and fun they are also easy to use. The investment of the E-bikes can range from $1,500-$6,000 and up.
5 frequently asked questions about E-bikes:
  1. Is it legal to ride on the bike path? Yes. However, laws can vary from state to state, and depending on local municipality. Make sure you’re familiar with what the laws are in your specific region.
  2. How much does it weigh? All Trek e-bikes weigh roughly 45lbs. Although this seems like a lot, weight is a minimal factor when the bike is moving.
  3. How fast does it go? level max speed 20-28 mph
  4. How long does it take to charge? A battery takes roughly 4.5 hours to charge if a full charge is needed.
  5. How far can I go on a single charge? They can range from 25-100 miles

Health & Fitness On The LINC Path

A path system is a great asset for any community. I’ve long been among those behind the efforts to add paths and connectivity to communities all over the land. Newnan area folks are gaining a wonderful thing as The LINC path system gets built.

Most of us live busy, demanding, over-scheduled lives. Though we were made to be on the move, to be moving under our own power, to be doing a variety of physical activity daily, most of us are obviously and admittedly sedentary. We sit to drive, we sit at work and at school, and we come home and sit in front of some kind of screen. Sitting has become the new smoking! Many of us sit and smoke! Our doctors, our loved ones, and that person in the mirror tells us we need to get moving and take care of ourselves.

The closer to you The LINC path system gets built, the closer to you will be the opportunity to get moving.

The LINC path system will eventually be an approximately 25-mile branching network, offering you multiple ways to get moving. 1.4 miles have been completed near the Newnan Centre and going under Lower Fayetteville Road. The next section is underway that will add an additional 3.4 miles, including a signature bridge over I-85 and into the Ashley Park area. You can run, walk, or ride a bike on The LINC path system. My wife and I have already enjoyed riding our bikes on the first section of The LINC, plus connecting to the path along Newnan Crossing Boulevard on the West Side and paths and streets in SummerGrove on the East side, for additional mileage and fun. The recent addition of a mountain bike trail alongside the initial section of The LINC offers an entertaining little ride for those of us who like to roll off-road.

Getting our exercise on paths can be an opportunity to work towards conditioning goals for local athletes. For the rest of us who aren’t competing but are just wanting to take care of ourselves, paths offer multiple benefits of which we should take advantage.

We need a combination of aerobic conditioning and strength training regularly. Paths offer that aerobic conditioning through walking, running or riding. Some of us take advantage of park benches, picnic tables, playground equipment, boulders, and outdoor workout centers where available to add in strength training and calisthenics. (I can show you how to do both!)

Those who do this regularly will find themselves feeling better, being stronger, increasing immunity, getting leaner, sleeping better, and reducing the effects of stress. Sound good?

But we should count the other benefits The LINC path system will offer us.

The forested and scenic sections of The LINC offer opportunity to commune with Nature. Watch for birds and other wildlife. Enjoy the changes of the seasons. Note the various flowers occurring naturally throughout the year. Maybe stop and smell a few. I do all those things when I’m riding or walking. I always go without listening devices in my ears—so I can hear the birds, and yes hear the people around me. Try it.

Path systems offer a more healthful way to get around, instead of everything by car. You can go places without cranking an engine. That may be new to you! You’ll find it fun. The businesses you visit will appreciate it. The smart ones will cater to The LINC travelers.

Connectivity is a wonderful result of path systems. Yes, connectivity ties the community together to all the places we like to go—stores, restaurants, parks, schools and endlessly more. Additionally, connectivity builds community among all of us. It’s like an endless town square. We can meet people everywhere we travel along the path. We can have an evening out on the path, a day along the path—including exercise, sightseeing, dining out, picnics, whatever. We can run errands on foot or bike. We can live a different and more vibrant way than the car culture of previous decades has allowed. Nearby path systems in Peachtree City, Carrollton’s Greenbelt, Atlanta’s Beltline, the Silver Comet rail trail from Smyrna to Cedartown, and Roswell/Alpharetta’s Big Creek Greenway have been proving all these benefits for sometime. I’ve enjoyed being on all of them. More path systems and rail trails are underway in places including LaGrange, Athens to Union Point, paths eventually connecting Alpharetta to the Silver Comet Trail, and a Rome to Silver Comet Trail connection is in the works as well. And there will be more.

Your LINC path system offers you a new way to live. Enjoy.

Jim Qualls recently started Jim Qualls Health & Fitness as a ACE-certified Personal Trainer and soon-to-be Health Coach, offering doable custom fitness and health programs for individuals, couples, and small groups wherever you need (parks, at home, and virtually). Contact Jim on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram or by phone at 678-283-8385.