Trails in San Antonio as part of the Howard W. Peak Linear Greenway Trails System just hit the 100-mile mark. Spurred by the vision of former Mayor Howard W. Peak, these trails long ago had the focus of being located along the major and minor estuaries in San Antonio. 

Now, they’ve gotten into the neighborhoods, providing access to tranquil city parks, be it by walking or bicycling. Families are enjoying healthy outings and savoring the great outdoors. Residents also have another way to travel to Nani Falcone Park, O.P. Schnabel Park, Roosevelt Park and many others.

Interest has sprung forth regarding escaping these San Antonio bounds with other trails, connecting with those to the north. Those living outside of San Antonio in places like Fair Oaks Ranch and Boerne have begun actively working toward eventually expanding and connecting existing trails in their respective communities — with an eye toward connecting with a possible trail coming up from the south through Bexar County.

The day will come, maybe sooner than we could have envisioned, when one will be able to conveniently and safely cycle other networks of trails extending beyond the bounds of San Antonio. For that to happen, Bexar County must invest in constructing, expanding or connecting other trails outside city limits.

This would be a smart investment for the county because trails offer locals opportunities for recreation and exercise, as well as for commuting. A more connected network that goes beyond city limits can also help attract tourism to our region. And it would support the meteoric increase in development along the Interstate 10 West corridor. 

Since the bike boom of 2020 when the pandemic prompted more people to buy bikes as a means of recreation, more of us have bikes in our garages. It’s a great way for us to get outdoors and to get our exercise in. With connections to trails outside of San Antonio, more Bexar County residents will have access to uninterrupted riding and the health benefits that come with it.

The completion of trails into the neighborhoods in San Antonio and elsewhere would allow us to truly be mobile, be it for safely commuting to work or school, seeing the doctor, going to the favorite brewpub or running errands. You still have to watch for parents and their strollers, dog walkers and occasional construction work, but you get to escape vehicular traffic. Plus, it saves money on gas and parking.

With trails along the San Antonio River, locals and tourists already have bike access to the San Antonio Missions, our very own UNESCO World Heritage site. A network extending from San Antonio all the way to Boerne — or even beyond — would encourage more people to enjoy our region’s many cultural offerings.

Development like Valcor’s 118-acre, Lemon Creek Ranch commercial center adjacent to Fair Oaks Ranch, Alamo College’s Northwest Education and Training Center and VIA Transit Center makes it imperative that trails be put in place to provide safe access from the nearby communities to the areas affected. 

While plaudits have accrued for the thought and planning that went into the Lemon Creek Ranch development, the sale of one of the last undeveloped parcels of land between the Rim and Boerne means more apartments are coming — with infrastructure that will fall far short of preserving the “tranquility” in our neck of the woods. It certainly speaks to the urgency regarding transportation relief via trail development.

Efforts are already underway, with a sub-group of the Kendall County Boerne Fair Oaks Ranch Transportation Committee tasked with developing a county-wide bicycle plan. Since forming in January 2022, it quickly became apparent to the group that success would depend not on singular trails but on a network of interconnected trails. This would depend on a trail through Bexar County to its northern border, along the Interstate 10 West corridor. 

This network already has its beginnings. According to Brandon Ross, project manager with San Antonio Parks and Recreation, bids will be requested this summer for the construction of a paved, multi-use trail from the Salado/Leon Creek Trail juncture at Eisenhower Park to Raymond Russell Park off Interstate 10, with construction to start in the fall.

Next up is a trail from Raymond Russell Park to Dominion Boulevard, said Ross. Bexar County has committed funding and will handle this project while coordinating with San Antonio Parks and Recreation. 

Details get a bit hazy beyond this point. Ross said the next project segment would presumably be handled by Bexar County, as trail routing is outside current San Antonio city limits.

That’s why Bexar County Pct. 3 Commissioner Grant Moody should spearhead efforts to move ahead with continued northward progress of Bexar County-funded trails and why the rest of the Bexar County Commissioners Court should get on board.

Clearly, things are happening in far north Bexar County and neighboring Kendall County that get away from the past car-centric way of urban planning. We are realizing that we simply cannot continue to construct more and more freeways without regard to transportation alternatives. We cannot put our ecology, and thus, our tranquility, at risk with the rampant degree of development.    

We have the ability to be the envy of the nation by developing a bicycle network without rival that connects San Antonio and its abundant tourist attractions with the communities to the north that are the gateway to the glorious Hill Country of Texas. We can’t let this opportunity bypass us. 

Nolan Kuehn is a member of the Rails to Trails Conservancy and former president of the Hill Country Bicycle Touring Club. He crossed the United States by bicycle in 2005, celebrating his 65th birthday...