"Our governments don't need to be spending many thousands of dollars to develop a biking & riding trail for the usage of only a few people." That was the comment on the Covington News Facebook page. And, it's been a common refrain in letters to the editor as well. The logic seems to be that Newton County residents have little to no interest in walking or biking. Over 2 million people come each year to walk, bike, job, or stroll on the Silver Comet Trail west of Atlanta. But, for some reason, there are those who believe Newton County residents are the sedentary, idle sort who have no interest in such activities. Why is that?
Today, I put my bike on the car and drove with a friend to visit the Arabia Mountain Trail in Lithonia. I know the Silver Comet is a huge draw from all over the southeast. But, what are things like closer to home here in Newton? I'll tell you what they're like... Hopping!!!
We started our ride from the Davidson-Arabia Mountain Preserve Nature Center, where both the main and the overflow parking were packed. Along our route, we also stopped in on other parking areas at Browns Mill, Panola Shoals, and Alexanders Lake -- each one was filled to overflow, with cars parking along the roadways. These "few people" sure do take up a lot of parking spaces! Many of the license plates read DeKalb or Henry, but Newton County was well represented in the mix.
On a beautiful pre-Spring day, the trail was filled with walkers, joggers, and bikers. We saw families on foot and on bike. We passed parents pulling kids in trailers and pushing them in strollers. We saw friends young and old out sharing a Sunday stroll. When a mother takes her two young kids out for a walk on the trail instead of sitting in front of the TV, how can that not make the world a better place?
I don't know why some people still believe a walking and biking trail is an investment only for a select few? I don't know why these people believe Newton County residents don't bike and don't walk. But, I do know these people are wrong.
My theory is they believe everyone is just like them. "I won't walk or bike on a trail, so why would anyone else?" Me personally, I don't have kids, so I don't need schools or ball fields. But, plenty of people do, and I gladly pay my tax money to support them. It makes the world a better place. I don't have a special needs child, so I don't need the Miracle League Field. But, I gladly support that cause. I want that child to have that opportunity.
And, unless Newton County is a totally different place from Cobb, Paulding, Polk, and DeKalb counties, we have a lot of people here who want a safe, scenic, natural place to walk and bike. And, I really, really support that! Being among the few is not as lonely as it sounds. You have A LOT of company.