Miramichi cyclist group wants to develop paved trail system in city
Initial plans include creating 10 to 15 kilometres of trails
A new group is hoping they can develop a paved trail system in Miramichi after seeing and riding on similar paths in different parts of the province.
Miramichi Cyclists for a Healthy Living was formed by people who have been biking together for years, said avid cyclist Amy Barrieau.
The group bikes Wednesday nights and sticks to the same four or five routes, all on side roads and highways.
"So we kind of band together and and go out as a group because it's safer and we enjoy each other's company, obviously."
Envious of other paved trails
But seeing the paved trail systems in other areas got the cyclists wondering if something like that could be developed in the Miramichi region.
"We've been going weekly, there's been a ride all season to the Véloroute on the Acadian Peninsula," said Barrieau. "They have 311 kilometres of gorgeously maintained paved trail where you can feel safe and you can view these beautiful landscapes along the way and they cater to cycling tourism."
The Véloroute de la Péninsule acadienne covers over 600 km and includes 310 km of paved cycle paths or paths, 240 km on the road (mostly with shoulder) and 70 km of paved off-road trails.
While being able to enjoy that trail system makes them happy, Barrieau said it also makes them envious because there is nothing like that in Miramichi.
"So we decided that we should, you know, take up the cause to look at getting a plan for Miramichi where we would start with maybe 10 to 15 kilometres and have a plan to see it grow."
Barrieau said a trail system would not only help tourism. She said it would also encourage active transport and commuting and fulfil a diverse need for sport.
"We've got people who want to walk, who want to bike, who want to run, want to take the kids in the stroller."
The expectant mom said she'd like to be able to take her baby in a stroller and her three-year-old on her bike and not have to be looking over her shoulder worrying about traffic.
"So if we had a small stretch to start we think it would be very, very beneficial for many reasons. For our physical and mental health and to get people outside and to have that active transport and commute here."
Barrieau said the response to the Facebook page created in late August has confirmed to the cyclists that there is a desire and need for the trail in Miramichi.
"We're getting messages of, you know, I would buy a bike if there was a place to bike, if we had a stretch of safe paved trail."
Barrieau said the local autism society also told the group a paved trail system would be amazing for accessibility and inclusiveness and safety where everybody could get out on the trail.
"I'm just overwhelmed by the amount of support and the ideas for multi–use on this trail. I think it would really, you know, encourage people and motivate them to get active."
Barrieau said they have reached out to all three levels of government for support and plan to meet with Miramichi city council to discuss it more. With COVID-19 related federal funding available for infrastructure projects, the group wants to move quickly.
"We want to start with 10 to 15 kilometres and then look to build it and look to bring it to our parks and downtown so you can kind of get around the river by bike if you can. That's the ultimate goal."