Saturday, July 07, 2001

Rails-to-Trails paths offer smooth rides

The Associated Press

        DAYTON, Ohio — “Location, location, location,” is key in real estate. Southern Ohio native Karen Usrey will heed this as she indicates her next home will be dictated by its “location” to the nearest “Rails to Trails” bike path.

        Ms. Usrey, 35, the Alumni Affairs coordinator for Sinclair Community College in Dayton, discovered the more than 600 miles of bike paths two years ago and has been pedaling 20 to 30 miles per week since.

        “I bought a new bike and not wanting a mountain bike, I asked the salesperson where I could ride on asphalt,” Ms. Usrey said.

        He pointed her to the Little Miami Scenic Trail, a 69-mile paved bike, hike and skate trail following an abandoned railroad route from Cincinnati to Springfield.

        Ms. Usrey was hooked and is now looking for a place to live close to the trail.

        Ohio's program is part of a national program, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, founded in 1986 with national headquarters in Washington, D.C. Ohio's Gahanna field office is one of six nationwide. Founded as a nonprofit organization, the conservancy is dedicated to connecting people and communities by creating a nationwide network of these public trails from former rail lines and connecting corridors.

        Statewide, Ohio's 45 completed trail projects combine for more than 600 miles of finished trails with 135 projects in the planning stages that would add 1,600 miles. And there are additional miles of connecting trails operated by local municipalities.

        With more rail-trail projects in the planning stages as governments around the state look to add to the system, it is possible that Ms. Usrey could eventually start pedaling in Cincinnati and end up in Cleveland or Toledo.


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- Rails-to-Trails paths offer smooth rides