League City council should approve a long-planned hike and bike trail along FM 518, despite opposition from some residents of a nearby subdivision who fear the trail would attract crime.
The proposed trail is envisioned as part of the city’s 2010 trails master plan, which calls for 212 miles of trail to connect and link schools, parks, neighborhoods and business centers, officials said.
The city’s park board this week unanimously recommended the city council move forward with the proposed trail; armed with that endorsement, the council should do so.
Arguments against the trail have been thin, based on the notion that people using it would mostly be criminals.
“This path would open up our subdivision to burglaries and home invasions,” one anonymous commenter argued in a survey the homeowner association conducted.
“The homes that this path comes closest to would be extremely vulnerable since they have only a low wrought-iron fence. We moved into this gated community to feel secure and this path would rob us of that security by acting as a gateway for a most undesirable element.”
The most undesirable element is not who we’ve typically seen using hike and bike trails. In fact, the people you see on such trails probably are the most desirable. They are people who get out and interact with the larger world, who use community amenities and, therefore, care about those amenities and are willing to help pay for them.
People in favor of things such as hike and bike trails are the people who build vibrant, diverse, engaging, living, breathing communities.
That’s not to mention that people who commit burglaries and home invasions tend to arrive and depart in automobiles, those being a far better conveyance for fleeing than a bicycle.
And there is more at stake in this situation for the city than not allowing a shallow argument to derail a beneficial project.
League City has ambitions to evolve into one of those highly livable cities that attract highly desirable companies that employ highly desirable people.
That ambition was apparent in the city’s attempt to woo Amazon, the Seattle-based online retail company, which was looking for a site for its second headquarters and a good home for perhaps 50,000 of its employees.
League City met many of the conditions Amazon had — it was near Houston, close to highways and airports and had available land — but it lacked public transportation.
People who oppose hike and bikes trails because some strange “other” might use them would oppose public transportation for the same reason and they are out of step with the rest of the world about what makes livable communities.
The question for League City council members is whether to heed voices advocating for the insular past or the integrated future.
They should just listen to parks board member Yvonne Tibai.
“I really hope that once it’s there, people will be able to start taking advantage of it and enjoying the trail system,” Tibai said recently.
“It takes you anywhere you want in the city. I’ve talked to people who have moved here because they heard about the trail system.”
• Michael A. Smith