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13 Apr 2003
I’m in Minneapolis this weekend, speaking at a Public Broadcasting conference organized by the Integrated Media Alliance. I flew out a couple days early, though, to spend some time with Leslie’s cousins outside of town. Today, with abnormally warm weather, we cycled about 40 miles out of town to some land they own just across the river in Wisconsin. The first 10 miles were a dream — riding along a converted rail grade through the forests. Riding without cars reminds me of just how humane a pursuit cycling can be. Gone was the stress of cars whizzing by, no need to concentrate on our position on the shoulder of a county highway. Just the whir of our chains and the frogs and birds.
In the Midwestern and Northeastern regions of the United States, the Rails-to-Trails projects have been quite successful, likely because both cyclists and snowmobiles (often very different communities) can agree that the reconstruction of linked trails is a darn good idea. It’s been slower in the rest of this nation, but steadily gaining momentum. Eventually, it may be possible to bike through large portions of the US without ever having to fight for a piece of the road. There’s lots more to read about this at The Rails to Trails Conservancy.