I'm excited about the extension of the Animas River Trail north of 32nd Street, but can the city make the trail from dirt instead of bone-destroying cement? Walking on cement can damage the body. Considering that Durango is enticing retired people to move here - and that the health clinic has closed, and doctors here don't accept new Medicare patients - isn't it more a necessity than a luxury to protect the bones from the cement? - Susana Jones
It's not a health-care issue. Concrete trails are a diabolical plot by the city to reduce costs.
"We make our trail surfaces as unforgiving as possible so fewer people use them so maintenance is easier," deadpanned Kevin Hall, the city's Parks, Open Space and Trails development manager.
There was a pause on the phone. "So now do you want the real answer?" he added with a chuckle.
The trail needs to conform to the Americans with Disabilities Act standards, he said.
A dirt trail might be easier on aging knees and hips, but it's not handicapped friendly.
Being old is not considered a handicap - yet. Although Action Line is certain that aging boomers soon will have a tantrum once they realize they are irreversibly elderly and therefore deserve some sort of new entitlements, benefits and recognition.
After all, the world revolves around boomers, who, despite constant reminders and numerous opportunities to change, live in a bizarre state of utter denial regarding their own aging, thereby leaving undue economic burdens on future generations for their retirement and care.
Nothing like a little demographic demagoguery to get folks riled up on a Monday morning, eh? Now, back to the trail.
Some folks favor an asphalt trail, which apparently is a softer surface, a fact confirmed by health experts such as physical therapist Stephanie Roberts.
When it comes to pounding on body joints, "cement is worse than dirt, and asphalt is better than cement," she said. "But you can't bike or Rollerblade on dirt, so I'm not in favor of that."
Blacktop also has a big disadvantage. It needs to be repaired all the time. Think Florida Road.
"There's a saying in the trail business: 'You rent asphalt but own concrete,'" said POST manager Hall.
If recreating on concrete bothers your joints, the city feels your pain.
Whenever possible, the Animas River Trail design includes enough space on the side for singletrack, Hall said.
The standard is 10-foot-wide paving with 2-foot edges on which walkers, runners and bikes can recreate on earth.
"We do that whenever we can, like what you see on the trail section behind Durango High School," he said.
Denizens of dirt have plenty of options, with more than 100 miles of soft natural trails around town. The Animas River Trail, meanwhile, is a neighborhood sidewalk, a promenade, an all-purpose community connector.
"At the end of the day, we want to provide access to the most people with a paved surface and we try to accommodate the soft-surface demands."
Seems that Durango hasn't lost its edge after all. Even if it's growing older every day. How boomer is that?
The Animas River Trail also takes a winsome stroll into the Mea Culpa Mailbag.
Last week's column ("Road project's signs give bikes a bum steer") concerned the lack of cycling lanes through Bodo construction.
Action Line suggested riders simply use the southern part of the Animas River Trail. That turned out to be just as bad of a bum steer.
"It appears you haven't been to the south of the DoubleTree Hotel on the bike path lately," wrote an alert reader.
"That, too, is torn up with a rough bike detour in place so we can have our sewer-plant discharge water moved to help fill Santa Rita rapid after the Animas-La Plata water project sucks out the water."
E-mail questions to actionline@
durangoherald.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can request anonymity if you indulge shameless self-promotion and put next Tuesday on your calendar to attend Action Line's talk and slide show on "Gardening with and appreciating tulips, the world's most treacherous flower, and other great spring bulbs." It's at 7 p.m. April 14 at the Durango Public Library.