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Bike and Rail?

Old 10-18-08, 08:59 AM
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Bike and Rail?

One of the projects being considered here in Central Ohio is a rails to trails bike path connecting one of our northern suburbs to the downtown area. One of the concerns presented was that it would take away any future potential for the abandoned rail line to be reclaimed as a light rail/commuter rail option.

Anyone know of any bike paths and rail lines that run adjacent to each other?
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Old 10-18-08, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by politicalgeek View Post
One of the projects being considered here in Central Ohio is a rails to trails bike path connecting one of our northern suburbs to the downtown area. One of the concerns presented was that it would take away any future potential for the abandoned rail line to be reclaimed as a light rail/commuter rail option.

Anyone know of any bike paths and rail lines that run adjacent to each other?
Depends on how the property is designated. We have an R-to-T in our area that has been Rail Banked by the federal government for potential future use. In the meantime it is an MUP. It doesn't really go anywhere useful...and don't see it being used for commuter light rail anytime in the near or distant future.

In Minneapolis I think in some areas the bike paths do follow the light rail right of way.

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Old 10-18-08, 09:58 AM
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In Maryland, the Great Allegheny Passage trail from Cumberland to Frostburg is alongside an active rail line.

-Roger
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Old 10-19-08, 01:33 PM
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In Central Maine, the Kennebec River Rail Trail is a MUP that crosses and recrosses an abandoned but passable rail line between the towns of Augusta , Farmingdale, Hallowell, and Gardiner. The rail line continues to the town of Brunswick where it hooks up to active track. The state is planning to make the rail line active again.

Today, the route is used every day by people walking and bicycling to work or for pleasure.

Last edited by powerhouse; 10-21-08 at 02:40 PM.
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Old 10-19-08, 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by politicalgeek View Post
One of the projects being considered here in Central Ohio is a rails to trails bike path connecting one of our northern suburbs to the downtown area. One of the concerns presented was that it would take away any future potential for the abandoned rail line to be reclaimed as a light rail/commuter rail option.

Anyone know of any bike paths and rail lines that run adjacent to each other?
How likely is it that the rail option would ever take place?

I wouldn't be concerned about it, myself. The rail trail will be a great use for the abandoned rail corridor.
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Old 10-19-08, 02:41 PM
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Hopefully very likely. Considering a lot of the issues we have with sprawl, improving our transit, making it more efficient and more accessible would do wonders for improving the bike ability of Columbus.
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Old 10-19-08, 02:49 PM
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In Louisville, the Louisville Loop runs alongside active lines and active rail storage areas., even crossing the tracks in places with no issues.
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Old 10-19-08, 03:00 PM
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There are lots of MUPs on old railways in Britain. The shortsighted idiot Dr Beeching decided to destroy much of our rail infrastructure in the 1960s, since cars were the future. I'd much rather have trains running again, so people didn't have to use their cars, leaving more space on the roads for bikes.
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Old 10-19-08, 04:07 PM
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The suburban north shore of Chicago has a bike path running along a commuter rail line.
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Old 10-20-08, 03:16 PM
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I don't see a need for it. The same route, downtown to Westerville, can be accomplished taking the I-670 and Alum Creek bike path. (Although a 4 mile section next to the creek and some connections downtown need to be completed). The Alum Creek path has the advantage of not having cross streets as the path dips down under bridges.

The former Pennsylvania R.R. right of way roughly paralleling Cleveland Avenue would be at street level passing through a neighborhood with more than its fair share of broken bottles. I commuted through this neighborhood on bike for a year and learned things I never knew before; like how the early working-girl bird gets the worm.

I don't see either bike path or commuter rail happening anytime soon (within the next ten years). Cities start getting serious about commuter rail when there are a ton of jobs being created downtown and the roadways are so clogged and the parking so scarce that well off suburbanites are begging with cash in hand for a trolley to get them to these jobs.

I would love to see the Pennsy R.O.W. turned into a bike path from Westerville to Mount Vernon where it can connect to the Kokosing Gap Trail.
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Old 10-20-08, 03:45 PM
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Not the best example, but I think for a mile or two in San Luis Obispo, CA, there is a MUP along the UP (old SP) Coast Line main. With a decent fence between the two and some statue of Chinese railroad workers at one end. It's quite possibly the quickest way to downtown SLO from that end of town.
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Old 10-20-08, 03:55 PM
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Minneapolis is in the proccess of deciding their new extention to the LRT. One of the proposed routes (1A) will be alongside a current bike path (that used to be train tracks). You can see route "1A" if you zoom in to the map on this page....

http://www.southwesttransitway.org/possible-routes.html
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Old 10-20-08, 04:46 PM
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I live in central Ohio, and I would much prefer the light rail/commuter rail option. There has been some talk of a train from Cleveland to Columbus to Cincinnati. It would be a huge amount of work and money to construct, but I can only see it being a benefit. Construction and operation creates jobs, and the line would promote tourism and mass transit while decreasing congestion. I don't think streetcars are the right answer for Columbus.

The town I'm from, Granville, has a bike path going through it which connects to Johnstown. It used to be a railway, and there are remnants of an old station along the path. It makes up part of the route I take when I bike to Columbus. It's a shame that the path doesn't go into the city. A lot of the designated MUPs in and around the city aren't really connected or coherent in any way, but there is currently an effort to improve cycling in Columbus. That article is from an excellent blog about transportation in and around the city called Xing Columbus.
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Old 10-20-08, 05:31 PM
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Atlanta has stretches of MUP that follow both the commuter heavy rail (MARTA) and the freight railway line. The commuter rail was built actually following the freight rail path so it's a big combo throughfare.
The area is for the most part not very ped friendly, so the MUP is mostly used by cyclists. In typical Atlanta planning style, though, the MUP just randomly disappears several miles out from the downtown business district, rendering it useless as a direct commuting route to downtown.
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Old 10-20-08, 07:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Ken Wind View Post
I live in central Ohio, and I would much prefer the light rail/commuter rail option. There has been some talk of a train from Cleveland to Columbus to Cincinnati. It would be a huge amount of work and money to construct, but I can only see it being a benefit. Construction and operation creates jobs, and the line would promote tourism and mass transit while decreasing congestion. I don't think streetcars are the right answer for Columbus.

The town I'm from, Granville, has a bike path going through it which connects to Johnstown. It used to be a railway, and there are remnants of an old station along the path. It makes up part of the route I take when I bike to Columbus. It's a shame that the path doesn't go into the city. A lot of the designated MUPs in and around the city aren't really connected or coherent in any way, but there is currently an effort to improve cycling in Columbus. That article is from an excellent blog about transportation in and around the city called Xing Columbus.
I'm pretty familiar with the bikeways plan. I'm pretty active over at Consider Biking. Hopefully we see this move forward.
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Old 10-20-08, 07:31 PM
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Oh, cool! I've never heard of Consider Biking before.
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Old 10-21-08, 08:48 AM
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My daily commute is down a bike path/route that follows an old rail right-of-way. Part of it is path, part street adjacent to the right-of-way. It's a total mess now because they're running the light rail up it. But when it's done the path/route will still be there.

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Old 10-21-08, 09:24 AM
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Thanks for all the great info. I now have a great reference when the debate locally continues over some of the projects.
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Old 10-21-08, 09:47 AM
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To answer the original question, I believe the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad shares its right-of-way with a bike path. I followed a discussion on a train forum and the engineers were not happy about it. They see people messing about near the tracks they way we see squirrels on the bike path in front of us.
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Old 10-21-08, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by GV27 View Post
My daily commute is down a bike path/route that follows an old rail right-of-way. Part of it is path, part street adjacent to the right-of-way. It's a total mess now because they're running the light rail up it. But when it's done the path/route will still be there.

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Old 10-21-08, 09:26 PM
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My new town (they call it a city but I moved from NYC) has a pretty active bike trail program, part of the planning involved studying ways to use a very convenient but active rail line as one of the ROW. To merge the two they considered putting the MUP on top of a berm running parallel to the rail line to mitigate some noise and debris issues. However the only section of MUP they have constructed so far that runs with the rail line for about 100ft is at grade and fairly close to the tracks, so much so that I would hate being there at that moment and I love choo choos.

That being said I hate rails to trails programs for the most part, from an efficiency point of view rail is just so much better than anything else and public transit>private transit. Not to mention the fact our rail lines are beyond critical capacity and once the rail line is gone it is impossible to put it back do to NIMBY.

Originally Posted by MKahrl View Post
To answer the original question, I believe the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad shares its right-of-way with a bike path. I followed a discussion on a train forum and the engineers were not happy about it. They see people messing about near the tracks they way we see squirrels on the bike path in front of us.
Very true except the kinetic energy differences make the engineer at the front of a zillion ton freight train much more likely to die when he goes over the handlebars.
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