Dear INDY, The American Tobacco Trail does a lot to unite Durham and the Triangle communities that it connects. (“Trail of two cities,” July 15.)
It’s true that Durham, like other cities, was once tightly segregated. The article’s concern about “haves” and “have-nots” seems to imply that the ATT has divided the city. You’ve identified one spot (along a 22-mile trail) that was opened in 2000 on a rail spur that was built in 1924 through neighborhoods that were already segregated before 1900.
A shared-use trail such as the ATT is part of the solution, not part of the problem. It’s free, it’s healthy, it’s intergenerational, pan-ethnic and multinational. It could be the most healing, unifying factor in our community for equity and democracy.
The ATT is safe, too. Yes, a few years ago some youths thought it was cool to bother trail users, including me. That was then. A Community Trail Watch (citizens plus police) has made a huge improvement. A new study by North Carolina Rail-Trails finds that, of the violent crimes near the trail, fewer than 1/2 of 1 percent occur on the trail. In other words, the ATT is the safest place around. I could add that it’s safer than driving a car on public roads, and safer than leaving it in a retail parking lot. The safety adage “bring a friend” serves well wherever we go, whether on a trail or on a shopping trip.
Let’s be grateful for the gem that is the ATT and let’s urge our communities to invest in a future with even more green, connective trails.
Dave Connelly, Durham