Rollin’ on (or near) the River
You don't always have to be on the water to enjoy the water
For those of us who live in the desert, water, any water, is special. It is in short supply, and so it is highly valued.
In a city, a river can also be special. It makes for a ribbon of nature that can transcend both urbanization and blight. Two of the blogs that I frequent, Captain JP's log and Beer and Trucks, have recently made posts about bicycling upon trails that run alongside rivers through urban areas, one along the Thames through London and its environs, and one along the Arkansas through Little Rock and North Little Rock. Albuquerque also has its own Paseo del Bosque Bike Trail alongside the Rio Grande.
I haven't been able to ride a bicycle since I suffered a medical malpractice incident that I'd rather not dwell on right now. But I can and do walk – lately, not as much as I should. Provided everybody is reasonably civilized, trails can be shared by walkers, runners, bicyclists, and equestrians.
JP reports on a bicycle trip he made, Putney to Kingston and back by bike, through a bunch of places whose names will be familiar to fans of the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical Cats, as places terrorized by Growltiger, the pirate cat. He has pictures to prove that, even in a heavily urbanized area, a river creates an environment that feels distant from the city.
Andrew doesn't provide any pretty pictures, but he does give us a map of the bicycle trail system, which is still very much under construction. I'm not sure whether it's coincidence that the Bill Clinton Presidential Center is in the same place as Heifer International. I haven't been to Little Rock since the construction of the bicycle trails began, but I do remember that there were parks along the river that provided welcome green space, and I imagine that the bicycle trails expand upon that concept.
Meanwhile, here in Albuquerque, we are increasingly aware of how precious our bosque is. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, a bosque is a wooded area alongside a river in an arid region – the southwestern equivalent of an oasis. It is a sanctuary for much diverse wildlife. It draws its sustenance from the river, and therefore, it depends on the river to remain healthy. Through the early 20th century, the river flooded every spring, providing sustenance to the bosque, much as the Nile did in ancient Egypt; subsequent flood control made the land along the river safer to build houses on or to plant farms, but gradually the bosque was dying. Recently, we've discovered how to manage the river with controlled flooding, rather than flood control, and the bosque is coming back.
I know there are other cities with rivers flowing through them, such as San Antonio. I have chosen to feature these three as examples of where the river provides an antidote to the city. If you have other such cities to recommend, go ahead and tell us in the comments, and provide links if you have them.