02 September 2015

Really Riding On Rails

As you probably know, the Rails to Trails Conservancy has been instrumental in turning abandoned railroad lines into cycling and hiking trails. As RTC continues its work, there are still many former railway lines that would make great trails, but Congress might slash some of the funding it has previously allotted to such conversions.

I have shown, in previous posts, some abandoned rail lines within a few miles of my home that would make wonderful cycling and walking routes.  If and when they will be converted is anybody's guess. 

In the meantime, cyclists who want to use those railways have a two options.  One is to ride in the rail bed.  On a road or fixed-gear bike with skinny tires--or even a touring or hybrid bike--that could be very difficult, if not impossible, as those beds are filled with various combinations of rail ties (in various states of decay) as well as gravel, weeds, roots and whatever people dump there--which can include old washing machines and refrigerators!  Even on a mountain or cyclo-cross bike, such conditions wouldn't be easy to negotiate.

The other option is to ride on the rails.  I thought I was being sarcastic the first time I suggested it, but apparently there are people who do it:



  1. Doesn't look like they get to relax and admire the views!

    In the 60's the UK rail network was drastically reduced and nobody had the imagination to see that the railbeds were priceless. Bits were asset stripped making the remainder almost worthless, like burning money to keep warm for a night!

  2. Coline--Yes, the views are great!

    To be fair, something similar to what you described happened here in the US. Once the Interstate highway system was constructed, many of the old railroads went out of business and the rights-of-way were purchased by corporations that didn't care about the historic or aethetic value of the railbeds.