Bicycles & Light Rail Instead of Freeways

by Catherine Haug, June 27, 2011

Sally recently sent me this article from Grist: Tearing down urban freeways to make room for a new bicycle economy, and it made me wonder: “Why aren’t they also putting in light rail?” And then, come to think of it, why aren’t passenger rail solutions being considered between cities and in rural areas too, as an alternative to cars and gasoline?

Freeways vs Rail Lines

Did you know that when President Eisenhower started our massive freeway system in the 1950s, that he intended rail lines to be built in the meridian space between the two directions of traffic? What happened to that excellent idea?

What happened is that the trucking industry went into high gear, once the freeways were completed, and they out-competed the rail lines for transport of goods across long distances. That worked because gas was cheap. Trucking companies then started pulling pups behind the main trailer and in some states, they can pull more than one pup – a virtual train on our highways, but far more dangerous than a real train.

Gas is no longer cheap and rail is now less expensive and more efficient than trucking. Why aren’t we making the switch to rail? Because rail lines all across the country have been abandoned. Thankfully, some have been converted by the Rails to Trails Conservancy, saving them for future conversion back to rail.

In the meantime, those trails are treasured by bicyclists, so if we reconvert them back to rail, we need to provide for the bicycles, too.

One Response to “Bicycles & Light Rail Instead of Freeways”

  1. E-bike says:

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