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College Park officially opens Phoenix Trail to walkers, bicyclists

College Park Mayor Jack Longino talks about the city’s commitment to providing pathways for walkers and bicyclists during a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Phoenix Trail Wednesday. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)

College Park Mayor Jack Longino talks about the city’s commitment to providing pathways for walkers and bicyclists during a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Phoenix Trail Wednesday. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)

COLLEGE PARK — John Duke has enjoyed riding bicycles since he was a young boy.

He said he rode his bike everywhere as a kid. As an adult, he said he rode it seven miles to work every day when he owned a business in Forest Park and didn’t have a car.

Now that Duke has sold that business and has bought a car, he still prefers to ride his bicycle wherever he can. He said he’s riden it as far as Alabama and back.

The seat is a little worn and patched up with some tape, but that doesn’t seem to bother Duke.

“I just like to ride my bike all over the place,” he said.

College Park officials opened a new pathway Wednesday that lets walkers and bicycle enthusiasts ditch their cars when they want to just get around the city. The two-mile Phoenix Trail connects the hotels on Sullivan Road with East Main Street, near the MARTA rail station, Mayor Jack Longino said.

It begins behind the Sheraton Hotel by I-285 in Clayton County and crosses into the Fulton County side of the city.

Wednesday’s ribbon cutting ceremony was held at the Ruby Tuesdays station across Sullivan Road from the Sheraton. After a few short speeches from city officials and the ribbon cutting, College Park motorcycle police road their bikes on an inaugural trip up and down the trail.

Attendees also got a chance to take a golf cart tour of the pathway.

The trail is intended to appeal to residents who want to take a more fitness-oriented approach to moving around the city while also appealing to visitors who want to take a stroll from the hotels to the MARTA station. Although the trail doesn’t end at the station, the mayor said sidewalks connect them together.

“It’s another thing that improves the quality of life for our residents and our visitors,” said Longino.

This is the city’s second walking trail. It already has the Brady Trail and Longino said the long-term goal is to connect the two with a bridge that will be paid for with grant funding.

And that’s something Duke supports.

“I just think to build a transit system around the automobile only is foolish,” said Duke, who’s been working with grassroots efforts to extend MARTA into Clayton County. “There should be options whether that’s bike trails, busses or trains.”