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February 2011 - RTC TrailBlog

  • A Bike Sauna Rolls Through Prague

    By Jeff Ciabotti, RTC

    Imagine this: It's 19 degrees out with a wind chill that would send even the hardiest polar bear swimmers back to their lair for a long winter nap. You are riding fully geared up, but the wind is laughing in your face. As time drags on, your internal conversation is turning ugly. Just when you decide to abort your trip, a fire-spewing capsule suddenly appears that vaguely resembles the landing pod for Apollo 13. You cautiously approach. Upon hearing sounds of merriment, you reach for the hatch, pull it open and step into a rolling hothouse made just for you.

    Welcome to the BikeSAUNA from our friends in the Czech Republic. The portable, human-powered sauna was designed by an architectural firm in Prague and can host up to six people. It was delivered as a gift to local cyclists who do not stop riding in the winter. The full functionality of the sauna was tested by 30 people last week on the banks of the Moldau River. We in colder sections of the United States can only hope that such a good idea gets imported -- and soon!

    Photo courtesy of Daniel Mourek, Czech Environmental Partnership Foundation

  • Watch Live TODAY: America's Great Outdoors Initiative

    Keith Laughlin, president of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), is an invited guest representing RTC and trails at the rollout of America's Great Outdoors Initiative. You can watch the live broadcast of the event, held today in Washington, D.C., including President Obama's remarks. 

    WHERE: www.whitehouse.gov/live
    WHEN: 4:45 p.m. TODAY!

  • Notice: Upcoming Railroad Abandonment in Lafayette County, Missouri

    RECEIVE RAILROAD ABANDONMENT NOTICES FOR YOUR STATE VIA E-MAIL

    On or about January 31, 2011, Union Pacific Railroad Company filed for the abandonment of 2.91 miles of track in Lafayette County, Missouri. The corridor runs between Myrick and Lexington. We are providing this information because it presents an opportunity to develop a real regional asset: a multi-use trail that can accommodate hikers, bikers, equestrians and other appropriate uses.

    NEXT STEPS: If this corridor is suitable for trail use, we strongly urge local trail advocates, or an appropriate local, regional or state agency or organization, to take action now. A "boiler plate" letter (found here) can be filed with the Surface Transportation Board (STB) and the abandoning railroad using STB docket number AB-33 (sub-no. 297X). Filing this letter does not commit its authors to acquire the corridor; it merely gives time to develop a rail-trail proposal and undertake negotiations with the railroad. According to the information we have received, the deadline for filing this letter is March 2, 2011. Even if this deadline is missed, there is probably still time to contact the relevant parties, since the railroad may have experienced a delay in filing all of the paperwork, or the STB may still have jurisdiction over the corridor. However, it is important to take prompt action. The STB posts all abandonment decisions and filings on its Web site, including the complete filing for this corridor. More information on the rail corridor, including a map, can be found in this filing.

    The STB has imposed a $200 filing fee for all railbanking requests. Entities filing a railbanking request may request a fee waiver or reduction, and government agencies will receive an automatic fee waiver. Throughout the process, make sure local government officials and citizen activists are kept informed of the project's progress. We also recommend contacting your state trails coordinator or your state bicycle/pedestrian coordinator.

    Both of these individuals are knowledgeable about state laws and resources and may be able to assist your community with this rail-trail project. Also, you may want to contact the abandoning railroad to add your name to their service list.

    ADDITIONAL RESOURCES AVAILABLE: RTC's Web site may provide valuable tools as you plan for a rail-trail, including how-to manuals, the Trail-Building Toolbox, our Publications Library and the Trails & Greenways Listserv for trail advocates and professionals. These resources can be found within the "Trail-Building" section of our Web site. If you take advantage of this information and other resources promptly, you will be well on your way to creating a successful rail-trail in your community. For more information, or if you decide to pursue railbanking, please contact the National Office of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

  • Notice: Upcoming Railroad Abandonment in Oakland County, Michigan

    RECEIVE RAILROAD ABANDONMENT NOTICES FOR YOUR STATE VIA E-MAIL

    On or about January 28, 2011, Michigan Air-Line Railroad Company filed for the abandonment of 5.45 miles of track in Oakland County, Michigan. The corridor begins at Haggerty Road and runs west. The filing states that the railroad wishes to "sell the right-of-way to an appropriate governmental entity for use as a recreational trail." We are providing this information because it presents an opportunity to develop a real regional asset: a multi-use trail that can accommodate hikers, bikers, equestrians and other appropriate uses.

    NEXT STEPS: If this corridor is suitable for trail use, we strongly urge local trail advocates, or an appropriate local, regional or state agency or organization, to take action now. A "boiler plate" letter (found here) can be filed with the Surface Transportation Board (STB) and the abandoning railroad using STB docket number AB-1053 (sub-no. 1X). Filing this letter does not commit its authors to acquire the corridor; it merely gives time to develop a rail-trail proposal and undertake negotiations with the railroad. According to the information we have received, the deadline for filing this letter is March 9, 2011. Even if this deadline is missed, there is probably still time to contact the relevant parties, since the railroad may have experienced a delay in filing all of the paperwork, or the STB may still have jurisdiction over the corridor. However, it is important to take prompt action. The STB posts all abandonment decisions and filings on its Web site, including the complete filing for this corridor. More information on the rail corridor, including a map, can be found in this filing.

    The STB has imposed a $200 filing fee for all railbanking requests. Entities filing a railbanking request may request a fee waiver or reduction, and government agencies will receive an automatic fee waiver. Throughout the process, make sure local government officials and citizen activists are kept informed of the project's progress. We also recommend contacting your state trails coordinator or your state bicycle/pedestrian coordinator.

    Both of these individuals are knowledgeable about state laws and resources and may be able to assist your community with this rail-trail project. Also, you may want to contact the abandoning railroad to add your name to their service list.

    ADDITIONAL RESOURCES AVAILABLE: RTC's Web site may provide valuable tools as you plan for a rail-trail, including how-to manuals, the Trail-Building Toolbox, our Publications Library and the Trails & Greenways Listserv for trail advocates and professionals. These resources can be found within the "Trail-Building" section of our website. If you take advantage of this information and other resources promptly, you will be well on your way to creating a successful rail-trail in your community. For more information, or if you decide to pursue railbanking, please contact the Midwest Office of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

     

  • Can Wheels Give You Wings?

    When you think about it, there really haven't been too many new human-powered land vehicles being developed in recent years. We have bicycles, skateboards, inline skates, foot scooters...and what else?

    Well, we stumbled across "the what else" earlier this week: the StreetFlyer. Created by Dr. Carsten Mehring, the new recreational vehicle is a land version of hang gliding that simulates the feel of flying. The prototype, built by students at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colo., is a heavier version propelled by running on a flat surface or down a hill, and then lifting up the legs to "fly," similar to the way you would ride a skate board. Dr. Mehring is planning a second version that will be lighter and collapsible, using a refined carbon-fiber system and smaller wheels for easier transition from running to flying. We're not sure how StreetFlyers would work on trails--and you'll definitely want a helmet--but they're certainly a fun new twist on cycling!

    Photo courtesy of Carsten Mehring.

  • RTC Celebrates 25th Anniversary!

    On February 1, 1986, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) opened its doors. For the last 25 years, we have made it our business to protect our past and transform our future through the use, development and advocacy of rail-trails.

    Then, there were fewer than 200 known rail-trails. Today, you'll find more than 1,600 rail-trails across the country, totally nearly 20,000 miles.

    Over the years, we've won some major victories, fought some tough battles and helped build a legacy of trails for generations to come. All of our accomplishments have been made possible because of the support of our members, donors and friends. Thank you for your contributions to the rail-trail movement, and for your enduring enthusiasm.

    Today, on our 25th anniversary, we want to wish you all, "Happy Trails!"

    25th Anniversary Logo © Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

 

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