riding a bike on tropical park trail

Rolling the Right Way: Biking the Great American Rail Trail

Want to bike across the United States from east to west or west to east? Now, you can with the aid of the Great American Rail-Trail, a pathway that stretches 3,700 miles (6,000 km) across 12 states that will serve bikers, hikers, and riders.

Throughout the pandemic, bike paths and hiking trails regained their standing within society as an important and invaluable recreation option. Moreover, biking and walking were rated higher and higher for commutes with individuals who didn’t want the close confines of public transportation.

The Great American Rail-Trail is a multi-use trail that stretches from Washington DC to Washington state. The route officially launched in May 2019, and the route plans to connect over 145 existing paths. As of May 2021, 53% of the trail had been completed.

Led by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), the project has raised more than $4 million in funding, both public and private, and they believe the trail will serve 50 million people once finished.

Repurposing disused railway tracks has become a major recreational route opportunity for the Great American Rail-Trail. These trails can be for commutes, exercise, and simple recreational use. Many portions of the trail are near built-up urban areas.

During the COVID-19 lockdowns, Ryan Chao, president of RTC, shared. “This year has proven how vital projects like the Great American Rail-Trail are to the country. Millions of people have found their way outside on trails as a way to cope with the pandemic.”

The Great American Rail-Trail represents a vision of a new infrastructure for the connection of more towns, cities, states, and regions. Chao believes this trail will become the backbone of resilient communities.

Biking has become increasingly popular in the last few years, and bike sales have continued to soar as more and more people turn to bikes rather than public transportation. Beyond health benefits, biking also is beneficial to decreasing the environment’s pollution levels. Biking has also been the most accessible type of private transportation for individuals from low-income homes.

Europe has focused on biking infrastructure. Paris plans to become a “15-minute city” with all of life’s necessities within 15-minutes by bike or foot. Milan has a similar plan in mind; while Europe overall has spent 1 billion euros on biking infrastructure since 2020, according to the European Cyclists’ Federation.

While Europe has no plans to create a trail quite the length of the Great American Rail-Trail, they are working on a cycling project of the 4,450 km EuroVelo 6 route that will run through 10 countries between the Atlantic Ocean and the Black Sea.

Throughout the world, biking infrastructure is becoming a more prominent part of the conversation for city infrastructure and budgeting. Some see bikes as the solution for equity initiatives; however, this initiative will only work by creating more safe bike lanes throughout cities, not just in the wealthier areas.

At StrongGo, we believe in creating a more accessible world for everyone with the use of detectable warning systems including dome tiles and the new trapezoid delineator tiles used to separate bicyclists and pedestrians at sidewalk level to prioritize safety for all commuters. Speak with an industry expert today by emailing csd@stronggo.com.


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