Imagine a transcontinental network of protected bike paths

Beneath an elevated rail line in Miami, a brand new park will open this fall with a 10-mile path devoted to strolling and biking. It’s an infrastructure enchancment for Miami cyclists, however it’s additionally half of a bigger, interstate community of trails that can finally make it doable to journey from Florida to Maine with little interplay with vehicles. And even that big venture is itself only a small a part of an excellent larger dream: a community of protected bike lanes connecting cities throughout the nation, making it doable to bike from metropolis to metropolis—and ocean to ocean—safely.

Known as the Underline, the park in Miami will hyperlink into the East Coast Greenway venture and is an instance of the sort of path that might kind car-free connections throughout the complete nation. “The tasks are on the market,” says Dennis Markatos-Soriano, East Coast Greenway Alliance government director. “They only want the funding to finish design and building.”

[Photo: courtesy East Coast Greenway Alliance]

The group is now advocating for a greenway stimulus as a approach to create a full nationwide community of related bike and pedestrian paths whereas concurrently serving to the economic system recuperate from the pandemic. Ten billion {dollars} invested in greenways, Markatos-Soriano says, might assist 170,000 jobs throughout the nation. It might additionally generate one other $100 billion in well being and environmental advantages.

[Photo: courtesy East Coast Greenway Alliance]

“Economists agree that we want fiscal stimulus, and the consensus is constructing {that a} massive focus ought to be supporting jobs via infrastructure investments,” he says. “However constructing extra highways will simply make fires, hurricanes, and flooding worse by additional destabilizing the local weather. Greenway building helps 50% extra jobs than freeway building, and it’s constructing the transportation programs that folks need and wish proper now.”

Different bold greenway tasks are underway, together with the Great American Rail-Trail, a cross-country path that goals to attach Washington, D.C., with the State of Washington. Greater than 1,900 miles of the probably route are already open for biking; the full route will cowl 3,700 miles; the East Coast Greenway, touring up and down the East Coast, has 1,000 miles accomplished out of three,000. However the brand new push for extra greenways envisions constructing the paths all over the place, making it doable to bike to a close-by metropolis as simply as driving.

[Photo: courtesy East Coast Greenway Alliance]

“Our imaginative and prescient is an intercity community that folks might bike and stroll to locations throughout the nation,” says Markatos-Soriano. The greenways might assist touring lengthy distances, but in addition on a regular basis transportation. “That is actually reworking the way in which folks transfer of their communities in order that we’re attending to locations like faculty, to our jobs, to the grocery retailer, and we are able to get there in a wholesome approach, in an lively approach, by strolling and biking. Everybody needs to do this lately, however they don’t have the secure infrastructure to do it.”

[Photo: courtesy East Coast Greenway Alliance]

There’s bipartisan assist for greenways, he says, and the group is now speaking with lawmakers to push extra funding to be included in a future stimulus invoice. It’s one thing that’s occurring to a point in different elements of the world. The U.Okay. is investing £2 billion in strolling and biking infrastructure as a part of its restoration plan, for instance. Paris has accelerated its rollout of latest bike paths, together with paths connecting commuters from the outer suburbs to town heart. Different international locations, such because the Netherlands, have already got intensive bike “superhighways” connecting cities.