major residential development that would have brought many more users to the north end of the parkway collapsed when the economy tanked. Construction of a new Grant District middle/high school, visible from East Levee Road, stopped when the district merged with other districts and the plug was pulled on the housing development. The school’s forlorn building shells remain surrounded by fields populated by cattle instead of humans.
Besides being good for wildlife observation, the Ueda Parkway path is a great place for fitness training. There are other reasons why the Ueda Parkway sees such little use. The parkway path doesn’t connect directly to the well-used Jed Smith trail in the American River Parkway. It stops a scant hundred yards or so away, but a bridge across Steelhead Creek is needed to connect the two. As is, it’s out of the way and a bit sketchy getting to Ueda trailheads at the west ends of the Arden Garden Connector and West El Camino bridges. Along the length of the parkway, access points are too few and far between. It can be reached from Gardenland Park and other points, but though the path runs right behind Fry’s Electronics off Northgate Boulevard, there’s no connection from the levee top trail to the busy store or to nearby North Market Boulevard. The steep levee sides prevent commuters and neighborhood walkers and joggers from reaching the path easily. Then there are the other things I saw on the ride. There were overturned shopping carts, abandoned clothes, a blackened backyard grill, discarded tires, lots of paper trash and graffiti on the trail and bridges. There were homeless people with their bikes and other belongings sheltering under
bridges. There were more tents and makeshift shelters on the far bank of Steelhead Creek than I have ever seen in years of riding the parkway. The campsites were surrounded by piles of waste. These conditions, along with the remoteness of the area, don’t inspire more use, especially by families or lone female cyclists and joggers. I’ll continue to use the Ueda path. It offers a change of scenery from the American River Parkway and the opportunity to ride a big loop around the airport. While riding, I’ll inevitably continue thinking about how to improve the parkway. I already know Sacramento needs to create better connections by building more bicycle/pedestrian bridges. Sacramento also has to solve what’s been an intractable homeless problem. For now, I can still enjoy the Ueda’s wildlife, solitude and the chance to exercise. Walt Seifert is a bicyclist, driver and transportation writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org n
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