The rail-trail movement is global. Though the United States
boasts the most extensive network of developed rail-trails, as well as rail-trail
organizations and advocates, all over the world citizens are recycling
underused rail corridors into vibrant places of recreation and transportation.
Australasia has been a hotbed of rail-trail development of
late. Particularly New Zealand, where the 150-kilometer Otago Central Rail
Trail is drawing rave reviews as a must-do tourism destination and
single-handedly reviving a number of rural communities along its route.
So it was great to host a visit by some of our rail-trail
brethren from neighboring Australia earlier this month. RailTrails Australia committee member Vince Aitken and organization volunteer Margaret Holt stopped
by our Washington, D.C., headquarters to meet with staff and share lessons and
challenges about rail-trail development at opposite ends of the globe.
Vince and Margaret had the opportunity to experience the
fruits of good rail-trail development firsthand, with a ride along the Great
Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal National Historic Park, one of America's most popular
rail-trail destinations and a model for such projects around the world.
Vince noted that due to the expansive and relatively unpopulated
landscape, most rail-trails in Australia feature great distances between
townships, and so there remains a tremendous opportunity to provide amenities
for long-distance travelers.
Learn more about RailTrails Australia at www.railtrails.org.au.
Photo of Clare Valley Riesling Trail, South Australia, courtesy RailTrails AustraliaPhoto of Vince Aitken and Margaret Holt with RTC President Keith Laughlin by RTC
The Duke Ellington Building
2121 Ward Ct., NW
Washington, DC 20037