Sneak peek at new LaSalle Trail in St. Joseph County

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Oct 112017

By Joseph Dits South Bend Tribune
SOUTH BEND — The new extension of the LaSalle Trail isn’t officially open yet. Then again, there aren’t barricades at Darden Road to stop curious bikers and hikers who head north to check it out daily — including a regular stream of them Sunday when I took the GoPro camera and previewed the fresh concrete.

It was a fall treat. Sunshine polished sparks of autumn color that had just spread a little more. Twigs and tree litter peppered the path from Saturday’s rain. Towering trees and neighborhoods mark the character of this 1-mile trail extension that the county is paving between Darden and Auten roads — a segment of the greater trail that now spans, with gaps, from Mishawaka to Niles.

As we reported in The Tribune in July, officials hope to fill all of the key gaps in the Mishawaka-Niles trail by the end of next year, including about 1.1 miles from Auten north to the Michigan line and a separate 1.2-mile stretch just north of U.S. 12 in Niles Township.

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Bike trail from Niles to Mishawaka set to be complete in September 2018

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Aug 012017

By Travis Robinson | Posted: Mon 11:43 PM, Jul 31, 2017
In just about a year from now, you’ll be able to ride a bike from the East side of Mishawaka, all the way up to the North end of Niles.
The idea to bike to and from Mishawaka and Niles has been talked about for decades. After finally starting the project almost one decade ago, that vision is almost reality.
With the 34-mile bike trail nearly complete, both Niles natives and newcomers say they’re excited to see what comes out of it.

“Something besides just going up and back the little niles trail,” Soon-to-be Niles resident Tom Vinton said. “Now I can actually go someplace for the day.”
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Niles Township works to bridge River Valley Trail gap

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Jul 312017

NILES — North of the Indiana-Michigan state line, one curvy little gap cuts the Michigan portion of the River Valley Trail in two.It’s a 1.2-mile stretch in Niles Township that has interrupted the ride or hike for trail users for several years.

But finally it’s on track to be completed — possibly in just over a year’s time.

 “We’re almost there,” said Jill DeLucia, chairwoman of the Niles Township Parks Commission. DeLucia’s hoping residents come to the Township Hall on Bell Road for an open house from 4 to 7 p.m. today to take a look at the final plans and to give their input.

“Whether it’s the location of benches or avoiding a certain area or making sure there’s signage in a certain spot, you get some great feedback from the public,” DeLucia said. “Any feedback is helpful in crafting a plan.” Wightman & Associates of Benton Harbor has engineered plans for the 1.2-mile piece of trail, which will fill the gap from where the township’s existing trail, which starts at the state line, ends at Brandywine Creek Nature Park to where the city of Niles’ portion of the trail picks up to the north at Fort and Third streets.

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We take LimeBike for a test spin in South Bend

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Jul 122017

Joe Ditz – SOUTH BEND — We find one LimeBike bicycle parked outside of Cops & Doughnuts-Dainty Maid Precinct, right where the smartphone app says it is.

Curious cops stop by to see what photographer Santiago Flores and I are doing Tuesday with the neon green bike, the first steed of the city’s new bike sharing program to officially hit the street.

I click “unlock” on the app, and it immediately finds the QR code on the bike seat. I could have also punched in the plate number. The lock flips open with a chime.

I heave the bike off of its kickstand — it feels like someone has loaded it with two big bags of groceries. And I cruise down bike lanes and downtown cycle paths, sitting completely upright and ringing the bell.

It rides like an old-world city bike. Not fast. But steady. It has just one speed, so riding uphill would surely mean hopping off of the seat to pedal.

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