Rails to TrailsAn Idea With Consequences
How It Started
Over 30 years ago, a group of hiking and biking enthusiasts wanted to convert unused and abandoned railways into public access trails for hiking, bicycling, snowmobiling, ATV riding, and horseback riding.
This is a great idea as many of these railways connect vast spaces. Trails from Lake Erie to Pennsylvania and beyond are possible. This conversion of resources will add enjoyment for many and bring in revenue to businesses and communities through which they pass.
Conservationists and communities united in the rebirth of unused railways for public access that promote physical activities and well being.
Sounds like a no-brainer? Great for the community?
A win-win for everyone? Think again.
An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea.
Converting an idea to reality takes planning – especially one as big as this. Safety is a big concern as is maintenance. Even though usage is “rent free”, there are expenses that need funding. Trails must be converted, made safe, monitored and on a maintenance schedule.
Community impact study ignored.
Research on costs and feasibility studies were actively pursued, but community impact studies were virtually ignored! A small percentage of rail infrastructure abandoned years ago, lies dangerously close to homes, businesses, and community organizations. Many properties were built long after the railway was defunct – so residents did not have any concerns over usage.
Who is impacted?
Property owners are facing invasion of privacy, noise pollution and the real dangers associated with the use of motorized vehicles near or on their property. This impacts the homeowner’s safety, increases insurance costs and contributes to a hostile environment.