Monday, January 17, 2011

Rail trails are all that, plus linear parks

We have looked at rail-trails from numerous perspectives, but we haven't spent much time considering them as parks or extensions to a park.

Yet in some instances, that is exactly what they are. Some communities even call their trails "linear parks." (Just like I sometimes refer to highways as "linear parking lots." Especially during rush hour.)

In a recent blog from the Local Ecologist, rail trails were viewed as an expansion to city park systems. In fact, Rail Trails were sixth on a list of a dozen "approaches to expanding city park systems."

Rail trails are family trails.
I liked that way of looking at trails, but I suggested that it wasn't just one of twelve ways to expand the parks; I commented that rail-trail are the best way to expand the park systems. I listed the following reasons why rail-trails are my favorite option for expanding city parks:
- promote exercise
- promote environmentally friendly commuting
- link one park to another
- promote family togetherness
- help fight obesity
- less expensive to maintain than either roads or traditional parks
- often funded & developed by multiple entities such as cities, states, feds, rails-to-trails conservancy, lottery funds, parks departments, private individuals, volunteers, local clubs like bike or snowmobile groups, etc.

As with most blogs, I'm likely preaching to the choir here. Each person reading this blog probably already knows and appreciates the incredible value of rail trails. So our next step is to educate those people who don't know and convince everyone that trails of all kinds are valuable and should be fully funded.


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