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Pete Bostich: A Passion for Rail-Trails

By Mark Cheater


It was a motorcycle, ironically, that got Pete Bostich into the rail-trail movement. The Orlando, Fla., resident was in a debilitating accident on his motorbike a few years ago, which led him to rail-trails as part of his recovery in 2010. Since then, Bostich has pedaled more than 3,000 miles on trails in Florida, Georgia, Maryland and Pennsylvania--"Hence, I owe RTC a lot of my time in the future for as much as I have used them!" he says. Lately, the 54-year-old retired sales engineer has been spending much of that "pay back time" helping our Florida and national offices in the battle to preserve federal funding for trails, walking and biking.

How did you first get interested in rail-trails?
In 2008, I was involved in a near-fatal motorcycle accident and spent the next eight months in a wheelchair. I started riding a bicycle as rehab, but with hearing loss--also from the accident--even side streets were scary. On May 9, 2010, I got on a rail-trail for the very first time. My son-in-law Eugene and I rode the West Orange Trail from Apopka-Vineland to Winter Garden. I loved every minute of it! I was hooked!

What do you like about rail-trails?
I love rail-trails because they're getting me healthier and stronger and keeping me from being a negative statistic in an overburdened health care system. Obesity is becoming a major health concern, and we find ourselves having to pay to do any type of physical exercise. Rail-trails offer a safe opportunity for people to get into a healthy lifestyle that has long-term benefits on our infrastructure, economy and environment!

I also love rail-trails because they link us to where we came from. Look beyond the pavement and you will see hints of how a community came to life. Ride any rail-trail and I guarantee there is a hidden history lesson!

Rail-trails also link us to a better future. Next time you are in traffic sitting at a red light, look at the other cars and see how many have a single occupant. How many people could have walked or cycled if the infrastructure were there? How much money could we have kept out of the pockets of OPEC members and placed into our own economy? Rail-trails are a required foundation for that kind of future.

What drew you to Rails-to-Trails Conservancy?
I found RTC because, by nature, I am an adventurer. RTC creates opportunities for adventure, new places to discover and better ways to challenge my physical limits. I remain engaged because I value the work they do for everybody, member and nonmember alike. Our voice needs to be heard loud and clear by those in government and elsewhere. And I promise you that I will remain engaged as long and my voice and heart allow me! 

What makes you such a passionate advocate for rail-trails?
I don't know where I would be in my recovery process from my 2008 accident if it weren't for rail-trails. I owe a lot in the way of health and attitude to RTC. It is time for me to pay back. I desire to keep the RTC network in the growth mode and to see usage exponentially grow with the network.

What do you think is biggest threat to rail-trails?
The lack of knowledge that the vast majority of casual rail-trail users have to the potential loss of rail-trail funding in the next federal highway transportation bill. 

Dollars are getting scarce. The private sector isn't contributing as much because they don't have as much. Government is facing the same problem, but that is compounded with the fact that every special interest group is trying to get its large share of the pie at the cost of the smaller players. We are going to be the losers if we don't get our senators and representatives to see that rail-trails are legitimate, economically valuable infrastructure needs. 

Tell us about the work you're doing to protect federal funding for rail-trails?
On a daily basis, I watch my news searches for Rails-to-Trails, John Mica [a member of Congress from Florida who, as chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has major influence over funding for rail-trails] and Florida government actions that can affect rail-trails and cycling. I respond via e-mail to government officials with my viewpoint. I also network with friends who share my interest.  

What's the best thing other trail users can do to help support the cause?
First and foremost, find out who your congressmen and senators are. Save their e-mail address. Then watch the RTC website or "like" them on Facebook. Watch for calls to action and be ready to send your opinion to your representatives. 

Secondly, recruit anyone and everyone you know who takes advantage of rail-trails. Rail-trails attract an incredibly diverse cross-section of our population, but most of them are not members of any organization or even aware of RTC. Get them on the same page with you and have them contact their representatives. I would love to see this become a call to arms for all RTC members to get on the trails and start recruiting the non-member trail users to join the ranks to be heard by our government officials.

Remember, we are the little guys in this game, and most of the time the little guys get beat up by the big guys; unless of course the little guys win with sheer numbers. We need to do that!

 ............................

For more information about how you can help out in the effort to preserve federal funding for rail-trails, become part of RTC's Action Alert Network.

Photos by Kathryn Prestera, courtesy of Pete Bostich.


Posted Mon, Aug 1 2011 11:50 AM by Karl Wirsing (RTC)

Comments

Jerry T Roberts wrote re: Pete Bostich: A Passion for Rail-Trails
on Thu, Aug 4 2011 5:33 PM

Fine article about a person who overcame so much. Pete you are to be congratulated for a job well done.

cheryl boggs wrote re: Pete Bostich: A Passion for Rail-Trails
on Wed, Aug 10 2011 10:27 PM

I really admired your story of recovery.  this could be attached to the war Vets that come home and need the same type of health benefits that helped you.  Please keep up the great writing and inspiring for others. I hope to soon ride that same trail since I live south fla, I will make a weekend of it!

Pete Bostich wrote re: Pete Bostich: A Passion for Rail-Trails
on Thu, Aug 11 2011 1:05 PM

Jerry and Cheryl,  Thanks for the postiive comments.  Looking forward to a time when we can ride together!

Noel Keller wrote re: Pete Bostich: A Passion for Rail-Trails
on Fri, Aug 12 2011 8:49 PM

Great to hear of another person using the Rail Trails to recover from injuries from an accident.

In addition to the positive Health benefits of the trails I would urge emphasis on the practical aspects by changing the name to "Rail Trail Transporation Corridors" when contacting  Legislatures.

Rebecca Wilson wrote re: Pete Bostich: A Passion for Rail-Trails
on Thu, Oct 13 2011 9:40 PM

The Rails to Trails sounds like  wonderful way to help our injured soldiers recover from their injuries.  I am going to write to my legislators about preserving the funding for these trails for their use and ways we can get the word out to our veterans.

 

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