A few years ago I was at a community meeting which was discussing the pros and cons of a rail trail in our area. We live in a beautiful part of the world and a rail trail would be an excellent way of bringing visitors to our little town, improving our economy, helping to increase people’s fitness and would provide a safe place for riding away from our busy roads full of log trucks. (I should add here that I am in favour of rail trail and I can’t wait to use it for running, walking and riding once it’s built).
At the meeting one of the detractors claimed that the people who use rail trails would use it to dump rubbish along the track, including fridges. We laughed at this preposterous idea and have often repeated this story as an example of how little some people know about riding bikes and the type of people who would come here to use the rail trail.
I was out walking in the State Forest near my home recently and came upon this fridge which had been dumped by some illegal dumper – I can assure you that it wasn’t dumped by someone on a bike!
I couldn’t help but take a photo of the fridge as it brought back this funny highlight from years ago. It’s not funny really though because these items that have been dumped will just sit and rot in the forest. Nearby there are other dumped household items such as lounges, bags of rubbish and general waste. There is a perfectly good waste transfer station very close to this area so there is no excuse for people to drive into the forest and dump their rubbish.
What are Rail Trails? Rail trails are shared paths on abandoned/disused railway corridors. They are still publicly owned tracts of land despite being abandoned by the transport industry many years ago. The tracks are usually removed and replaced with road base, gravel or a sealed surface, so that the smooth gradient facilitated by the embankments, bridges and tunnels can be used by cyclists and walkers of all ages and abilities.
They are used in other states and around the world for safe walking and riding, by people in wheelchairs, or those pushing a pram. The easy gradients, with no steep hills, and the gentle curves designed for trains, work well.
Rail trails are scenic, usually very quiet and safe because of the great visibility ahead and behind and due to a lack of sharp bends and blind corners. No motorised transport (apart from mobility scooters and occasional maintenance and emergency vehicles) are permitted to use the trails.
The good news is that our little town has been approved as a pilot for a rail trail in our state. Hopefully we don’t have to wait too much longer.
I wrote this post some time ago about my views of rail trails – Riding along on my pushbike
(Thanks to Rail Trails for NSW and Tumbarumba Shire Rail Trail Facebook pages for providing some of this information.)