A rail conductor and bicyclist we stayed with when my spouse and I biked the contiguous perimeter of the US, rode passenger trains up the California coast. He told us that there was plenty of room on the federal rail lands for both trains and paved trails.
Bicyclists commuters, recreational riders and, especially tourers, are heavy users of the commons. We ride roads and trails. We are delighted when those trails lead to parks where we can picnic, and public arenas like museums etc. that can be shelter and entertain us. We give bonus points for public restrooms. If we commute, buses and light rail that hold bicycles help us out in a pinch, and if we tour, trains that allow bikes greatly enhance our options.
It behooves us then, to think more broadly about the use of roads, trails, and public infrastructure, and to advocate not just for our bicyclist selves, but for the broader issue of transportation and access to green and urban spaces without cars for all regardless of ability.
If we are going to advocate for more rail trails, let us not do it at the expense of train transit. Today rail, whether light rail or Amtrak, needs to be an essential ingredient to moving our communities toward real viable mass transit systems. Our cry should be to bring back trains and add paved trails. And those trains need to put the needs of people with disabilities at the forefront.
Bicycles are not accessible to everyone. So bicyclists need think what they love about biking and how those aspects of car free transport, ease of transport, and access to green spaces and urban spaces can be expanded to include those who cannot bike. We should be at the forefront of calls to expand disability access, on trails, on roads, on sidewalks, in parks and other public arenas.
The principals behind our advocacy for cities and rural places friendly to bicyclists, needs a wider lens so the result is more accessible, sustainable, green communities, and public assets that enhance the lives of those with the least private assets.