I have been reading the threads on bicycle/vehicle accidents and injuries (some critical).
I Have a son who was not as lucky as some of these folks in that his injury from a common sports activity resulted in total paralysis from the neck down, and another son (with profound developmental disabilities) who became paralyzed due to undiagnosed osteoporosis and a fall. I am aware of what the terrible personal and financial costs are when one becomes paralyzed. A few years back a well-known 41 rider (Sydney) who lives nearby and is our age was killed by a car.
So, several years ago I did - what to me - was a fair amount of research on the comparison of serious, critical and death rates between road cycling and MUP cycling. My conclusion was that while more accidents occur on MUPS, serious, critical and deadly accidents mostly happen on roads. The MUP accidents are generally minor or medium. Given my continuing very significant family responsibilities, I have no business exposing myself to any more serious danger than I need to, while at the same time I want to have fitness activities that keep me in shape and that are appealing to me and that I will and can do. Bicycling, walking, swimming and resistance training fit the bill.
So, I ride MUPS almost exclusively. BUT, I must note that the MUPS I ride are excellent in quality, generally very uncrowded, scenic, allow for long distances without any (or few) interruptions. I did a 30 mile ride yesterday with crossing only one street - and that was to get to 24 Hour Fitness for a swim in the middle of the ride. Our MUPS also take one where one might want to go. Banks, town hall, restaurants, supermarkets. cultural and recreation center, etc. All are on a MUP.
In a few months, with one connector being finished as I type, I will be able to ride one-way for 70-100 miles with no stops for streets.
Yes, I do ride on streets at times - chosen carefully, and do this infrequently.
A personal decision, made even more possible by my circumstances (a house deliberately chosen 1/2 mile from the trail, with a connector running behind my house).
How are these MUPS and open spaces paid for?
Much is paid for by our lottery profits, which are totally dedicated to trails and open space and the like. This was a decision of the voters of Colorado.
"Profits are distributed to organizations charged with issuing Lottery funds to improve and support parks, recreation, open space, conservation education and wildlife projects. Our partners in this mission include Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), the Conservation Trust Fund, and the Colorado Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation.
Also, almost all of our cities/counties voters have additionally passed significant open space and trails tax levies. IOW, they WANT these trails and open space.
Colorado is one of the fittest and slimmest states in the country. The interest in fitness here is exhilerating. I go out on those MUPS and pass and get passed by individuals, including women, who also jog and walk. It is amazing to me. Also, with rare exception, our walkers, joggers and bicyclists are courteous and follow basic MUP safety tactics.
Typical MUP in my area:
OK, that is my personal story about why I ride where I ride.