Bike trails have proved invaluable for recreation and transport during the lockdown, displaying how important it is for cities to integrate safe cycling and walking routes within their post-pandemic recovery. However, it’s not just cities that are making an effort to create more bike lanes.
Dubbed the Great American Rail-Trail, an ambitious project is currently underway to create a bike path that stretches almost 6,000km across 12 states, enabling cyclists, hikers, and riders to traverse the entire US, from Washington state to Washington, D.C.
Launched in May 2019, the route will eventually connect over 145 disused railway tracks. So far more than 3,200km of it has been completed. The project is led by the Rail-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), which has raised more than $4 million in public and private funds. Once completed, the ambitious infrastructure project will serve 50 million people within 80km of the trail.
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, rail-trails, as well as other recreational routes, have proved invaluable respites for many, providing alternative commuting routes and space for people to exercise, often near built-up urban areas.
“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,” said Ryan Chao, president of RTC.
“As the Great American Rail-Trail connects more towns, cities, states, and regions, this infrastructure serves as the backbone of resilient communities, while uniting us around a bold, ambitious and impactful vision.”