Cycling Along the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad

The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad is an excursion railroad based in Cumberland, Maryland. It operates over ex-Western Maryland Railway tracks and travels to Frostburg. 

The Allegheny Highlands Trail of Maryland runs along the rail line.  This trail is part of the very popular  Great Allegheny Passage trail which connects Cumberland to Pittsburgh and attracts over 750,000 visitors per year.

The Western Maryland uses both steam and diesel locomotives.

Though some might argue that cycling next to a steam locomotive would be far more dangerous than riding next to a diesel or electric train, this fact seems  lost on the cyclist in the video. 

Note, too, there isn't a fence or barrier separating the train from the trail.

More scenes from the Great Alleheny Passage:

 

Man Killed On Same Tracks As Teen

Two Have Died in a Month Along Tracks in Chesterfield, Virginia

A 25 year old verteran was killed walking on the same stretch of tracks as the high school student who died on October 8. 

Chesterfield County Police identified the man who was killed by a train on September 6 as Aubrey A. Weese, 25, of the 3700 block of Luckylee Crescent in Richmond. Police said the victim was wearing headphones and had his back to the Amtrak train as he walked near the Defense Supply Center in Richmond. 


Photo Courtesy WWBT 12

People will walk along train tracks if they don't have alternatives.  Rails-With-Trails provide safe options.... and may have saved both these lives.

High School Student Killed Walking on Tracks

Would a Rail-With-Trail Have Avoided This Tragedy?

An 18 year old high school student from Chesterfield, VA was trying to make his 10 pm curfew and decided to take a shortcut by walking home along active  railroad tracks.  It appears he didn't hear the train coming and was tragically killed.

If there had been a trail along this track, would he have been walking on active tracks or instead, walking home  along a safe walking path? 

According to the news story, many children in this neighborhood use this same shortcut each day. 

In this neighborhood - and many other neighborhoods across the nation - this same, tragic story need not play out again and again if citizens had safe corridors to use rather than taking shortcuts and walking on active railroad tracks. 

The railroads all cry danger, but once again, common sense tells us that if there had been a rail-with-trail along this track in Chesterfield County, this tragedy could have been avoided.

Let’s build safe cycling and walking paths beside the tracks so we don’t see this scenario play out yet again.

Family Adventures on Rails-With-Trails?

Railroad officials love to shout, “Danger! Danger!” whenever anyone has the nerve to even suggest that bike and pedestrian trails can be located next to active rail lines. 

I couldn’t help but chuckle when I came across the Portland Family Adventures  website showing  a family of three, (Dad leading the charge on his bike, Mom looking a bit unsteady on her roller-blades and a little girl of three or four on tiny little pink bike in between)) riding on the Springwater Trail  in Portland, Oregon, perhaps fifteen feet from a railroad track. 

Shouldn't someone call Portland’s Social Service Department and report these irresponsible parents? 

According to the website, the Spring water Corridor Trail is, “one of the best and most accessible bike paths within a short distance from downtown Portland.”

Don't we, in fact,  need more corridors like the Springwater Trail for families to get some exercise and fresh air  as they enjoy their time together?  Perhaps we shousuggest more families go out for a ride, roll or walk along a trail, bike path or heaven-forbid, one of those crazy, scary rails-with-trails.

Plans for New California Line Include RWT

It appears Northern California will soon be home to another  rail-with-trail. 

Sumitomo   Corp. of America/Nippon Sharyo Inc.  is the low bidder to build nine, three-car trains for California’s Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District. They plan to build a 70-mile commuter railroad and a parallel bicycle-pedestrian path along the publicly owned former Northwestern Pacific Railroad right-of-way through Sonoma and Marin counties.

The Northwestern Pacific Railroad   was a regional railroad serving California's North Coast. The railroad ran from the North Bay at Sausalito to Eureka, California, primarily near the U.S. Route 101 corridor. 

The Northwestern Railroad ceased operations in 1992.

The new line will run from Cloverdale, California, at the north end of Sonoma County, to Larkspur, where the Golden Gate Ferry connects Marin County with San Francisco.

Construction is slated to start next year with service scheduled to begin in 2014. There will be 14 stations between Cloverdale and Larkspur with trains running at 79 mph.

Specifications included seating for 78, storage for 10 to 12 bicycles, overhead storage, tables, reading lights, and Wi-Fi.

SEHSR: A Complete Corridor for the Twenty-First Century

The proposed Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor (SEHSR) planned to run from Washington DC to Charlotte, NC via Richmond and Petersburg, Virginia.

This corridor is a candidate for a rail-with-trail. 

In the initial Tier II Environmental Impact Study, a trail was included to connect Petersburg, Virginia to Raleigh, North Carolina as part of the East Coast Greenway. ( http://www.greenway.org/ )

Let's hope officials realize that we could not only upgrade our rail infrastructure but create a complete, multi-modal transportation corridor (Complete Corridors) at the same time. 

The SEHSR could be the example for the rest of America of how we should prospose and build transportation corridors for the twenty-first century. 

Let's not squander this incredible opportunity.  Our children and grandchildren will thank us.

To learn more, visit http://www.sehsr.org/

Minneapolis Success:

The Hiawatha Trail - LRT

Another example of how well rails-with-trails can work is the Hiawatha Light Rail Line in Minneapolis.

The trail is part of the The Hiawatha Line,  an 11 mile light rail corridor that runs from Downtown Minneapolis to the Mall of America.  It includes stops at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport.  The Hiawatha had over 10 million rides in 2008 with 30,500 per weekday.

The Hiawatha was opened in 2004 and the trail stretches from 11th Ave to 28th Street connecting the Midtown Greenway to downtown Minneapolis  Between 1800 and 2100  people use the trail per day.

The trail is owned by Metro Transit.  Here are some shots along the corridor:

Here's a random video of a couple of guys riding beside the train, clearly paying little attention to the fact they are less than 10 feet from the tracks.  Come to think of it, why should they?

San Diego's Martin Luther King Promenade

Click here for more photos of this beautiful trail.

 

Running through downtown San Diego is the Martin Luther King Promenade.  Located near the convention center in the historic Gaslamp Quarter, this beautifully landscaped corridor connects restaurants, parks, shops and outdoor art exhibits. 

Along the promenade you'll see some of the best the city has to offer.