The other day I overheard a little back-and-forth between a trail-only advocate and a Rail Trail supporter. The trail-only guy had been to Europe in the summer and wanted great bike trails like the ones he rode there. The Rail Trail supporter had been to Europe too and she pointed out, “They have trains too, and big bike parking garages, because bikes and trains go together.” (Picture above is of the Amsterdam train station bike parking.)
I grew up in the south and wanted to add onto her sentence, like… Bikes and trains go together like peanut butter and jelly… ham and cheese… biscuits and gravy…. You get the idea.
They go together because the train allows bicyclists to go further than if they were limited to just traveling by bicycle – and the bicycle addresses the “last mile” issue for some users. This natural fit is something transportation planners know about, which is why the county’s Unified Corridor Study (UCS) looks at them together. (More on the UCS here.)
You don’t have to go to Europe to see how bikes and trains go together. The new Sonoma-Marin SMART train carried 12,000 bikes in its first three months. So many bikes that the local transportation commission is launching a pilot bike-share program – hoping to reduce the number of bikes carried on the trains.
Santa Cruz County has an approved plan to build a great trail alongside the rail line now. The first segments are scheduled to be built in 2018 and virtually all of it could be completed in ten years. RTC staff says that scrapping the current plan and starting over will lead to a delay of 10 years or more. (See RTC’s estimate of the delay changing course will cause.)
Maybe you’re not a fan of trail and rail (or peanut butter and jelly), but building the trail as approved and underway is the fastest way to get the trail.