The people of Pickens, S.C., could see what was happening in the city of Greenville, just 20 miles to the east. And they saw that it was good.
There, the development of the Swamp Rabbit Tram Trail (below, right), along a disused railroad line, was at the heart of the city's effort to revitalize its main street and downtown commercial district, and provide free and accessible outdoor recreation options to residents in an effort to combat a rising obesity rate.
I read on GreenvilleOnline this morning that, eager to replicate Greenville's success, city leaders in Pickens have allotted money and awarded contracts for several projects that will improve local bike/ped infrastructure and create recreation outlets and tourism attractions.
One of these projects is the second and third phases of the Appalachian Lumber Greenway Trail, a paved, multi-use trail along the old Appalachian Lumber Company's rail corridor.
The city is also investing in the construction of an off-road bike park - a skateboard park for bicycles - which would include 3,500-foot loop on a timber frame with jumps, obstacles and challenges for off-road cyclists. Similar parks across America have been shown to not only increase local interest in biking but also draw experienced bikers from hundreds of miles away.
"We really want to make Pickens a destination for tourists to come instead of just a drive-through on their way to the lakes and the mountains," says city administrator Katherine Brackett.
"We want to take advantage of the traffic that's in our town, and we want to have somewhere for them to go that creates a long enough experience that they'll want to stop and go through our downtown and come back here, eat in our restaurants and shop in our stores."
Congratulations, Pickens. You're on to a good thing.