There are two schools to dealing with life’s challenges:
You can grow more defensive, build a wall and hide from the issues;
Or you can grow up, and work through the issues.
Community leaders in the border towns of Brownsville, Texas, and Matamoros, Mexico, are looking to do the latter. At a time when a bluster about great, great walls is grabbing all the headlines, they’re quietly talking about building a path instead.
A bike path, to be more precise.
The path would utilize an abandoned stretch of the Union-Pacific Railroad that’s part of the B&B Bridge already uniting the two towns. Some 12,000 residents legally commute between the cities for work, making the path an easy and eco-friendly way to traverse the Rio Grande.
The idea came from Mauricio Ibarra, a Brownsville resident who commutes to Matamoros. He’d been using the Linear Park Trail, an eight-mile bike trail that was recently converted as part of the Rails-to-Trails initiative and connects the suburbs to urban renewal projects in downtown Brownsville, including the art museum, the zoo and the farmer’s market.
Brownsville and Matamoros have a long history. They were separated after the Mexican-American War, and the Confederates used their shared port as a way to smuggle cotton to Europe during the Civil War.
But despite a geopolitical border, the two cities share problems, from crime to poverty to Zika Virus. They also share regional assets like tourism and a shipping economy. Officials see the path as a forward-thinking way to confront their problems, and will be presenting it at the U.N.’s Habitat III Conference in Ecuador this October.