Thursday, May 17, 2012

Rails-to-Trails and Litter

Loss of railroads from the nation's landscape may be disheartening, but the proliferation of pedestrian pathways replacing the historic iron horse avenues is a creative use of thousands of unused or abandoned railroad passages. A number of these walking, biking trails traverse the United States. According to the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy site, this was a natural phenomenon. After the old rails were removed, a ready-made pathway existed. Eventually, local communities started converting the dirt paths into paved trails. According the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, there are currently 20,409 miles of trails in the United States and 276 miles within the state of Indiana.

The availability of the trails provides a variety of benefits for communities and people within those communities.Our son lives very close to a trail, and we live only a few miles from a number of trails. His family uses this neighborhood trail for fun, exercise, and recreation. Although our trips down the local trails are infrequent, my husband and I occasionally enjoy pleasant walks on the scenic pathways. 

However, now and then our enjoyment is sometimes dampened by litter. There is one type of refuse that makes me angry. An stray piece of paper, a plastic bag, or even an aluminum can may be unsightly but that can be picked up and disposed of easily. Broken glass presents a different problem. The shards are not only unaesthetic but pose a danger to sojourners on the trail. The other day my husband and I picked several handfuls of broken glass on the local C&O trail. I wish those who choose to drink beer and litter on the trails would drink their beer from a can. Of course, better yet would be not to litter along the scenic pathway. One can hope that all who travel the trails will do so with fellow travelers in mind. Until that time, we plan to carry a sack for the litter.


bronsont said...

I love those trails, there is a great one, The Pinellas Trail, which runs 38 miles from downtown St. Petersburg Florida to Tarpon Springs. Give it a look if you ever get in this area.

ChrisB said...

I'm glad you left a comment on my blog, because I recently lost most of my links on blogger when they altered the format and silly me forgot to save original.

We have a few of these converted tracks and I used to regularly ride a section of one of them (for exercise!)and I so agree with your comment about the litter and broken glass!

Molly said...

Hi Molly! So nice to hear from you again! We are big fans of Rails to Trails. My husband began supporting them years ago when the organization was in its infancy, and has continued as they've grown. We've run/walked/ biked on R to T trails in several states and constantly marvel at what a great idea it was/is!
I like your idea that the paths we are seeking are close at hand---we just need to be more attentive!

daddyd said...

Moving around out doors is a very good activity. The out side is to be for everyone. The rule is: "if you bring it in, then take it out." That is only fair to everyone. Walk on America. Walk on.

Margaret said...

What a wonderful activity! I drink beer from bottles(tastes better) but would never litter. Broken glass is dangerous and horrible. I've been cut on it numerous times.

Pamela said...

oh so many disrespectful people.

I was delighted the other night - out for my walk with my cousin -- out in the foothills of the Blues.

We had seen some vandalism on the trail and heard some boys laughing ahead of us and wondered if it was them. When we came around the corner, it was three boys with trash bags picking up litter.
Probably 16 or 17 years old.

I was happy,.

Nikki said...

The one that bothers me the most is cigarette butts. Not only is it littering, it's just gross!

Luke said...

We love the trail that used to be part of the Vandalia Railroad. Sometimes there is litter along the way, but there's also a problem of people not taking their dog just another foot over to go in the grass. Yuck.