As far as I know the concept of linear parks is a fairly new idea. We first became aware of them when we visited the High Line in New York City. This park is not only linear rather than the round or square shape we usually expect from parks, it is elevated above the ground. Originally it was a railroad built to bring supplies into factories. The factories closed, the trains stopped running and the tracks were taken over by Mother Nature. New Yorkers who are always hungry for a bit of green space, saw that the "weeds" growing on the tracks were the beginnings of a nice place to walk and commune with nature. Today the High Line is a tourist attraction as well as a favorite place to catch the fresh air for folks lucky enough to live in the southern part of Manhattan.
Although space is not nearly as precious in McAllen as it is in Manhattan, the locals saw a perfect spot for a linear park on the land that bordered an irrigation canal. A curving concrete walkway was laid along the canal and in some spots the canal was diverted under the ground. Today this eight mile long park is the longest place to ride bikes off road in town. At home we love to ride our bikes on the many rails to trails bikeways built on unused track right of way. But when we travel, bike paths are hard to find. Perhaps they are not as numerous as they are in Chicagoland. When we ask around we have to find a local to question who enjoys riding a bike. Since bike paths are usually free, no one bothers to list them in tourist brochures or web sites as a rule.
So today we gave the Second Street bikeway a try. The route took us past some affluent subdivisions; some were gated. While the recent immigrants in this area struggle to get by, it was obvious that a number of folks living here are doing just fine. It was nice to be off-road, but the bikeway followed Second Street closely with its exhaust fumes and we had to stop frequently to what for the light to change when we crossed streets. On a sunny winter day the lack of shade was a treat, but it must be a bear to ride or walk this linear park in the summer. We enjoyed the ride today, but when it comes to bike paths, there's no place like home.