Sep 20

Opportunity to Improve Island Infrastructure

Time to Look at New Island Transportation Ideas

infographic for island transportation infrastructure

Island Transportation Infrastructure Options

Out of adversity comes opportunity. The damage suffered by island communities and entire islands as a result of recent hurricanes has been devastating. As always, our thoughts go out to those island residents who have suffered great losses. However, our thoughts are not enough. The entire world has an opportunity to help these islands rebuild even better than before. The old paradigms just won’t work anymore. One island at a time, we can make changes that will help not only the demolished islands, but the entire world.

Out With the Old Island Infrastructure…

It is time for action, not words. When it comes to rebuilding the destroyed islands, we should not waste time discussing the causes of climate change. No matter what the cause, it is a stark reality, and we must do something to protect our most vulnerable citizens. We need to help them pick up the pieces and build an infrastructure that is based on reality. The old system of petroleum based transportation is not appropriate for most islands. Cars are not the answer. Alternative, environmentally sound, economically feasible transportation is the only answer. To ignore that is folly. The residents cannot ignore it, local leaders should not ignore it, and the rest of the world must not ignore it. The most impacted islands now have an opportunity to rebuild from the ground up. They cannot squander this opportunity. It will likely be their last.

Avoid Making the Same Old Infrastructure Mistakes

There are plenty of arguments for phasing out the harmful petroleum-based transportation anywhere, but it makes even more sense on islands, big or small. Here are some of the reasons why it would be foolhardy to rebuild the islands using the same old model dominated by polluting vehicles:

  • Islands are compact and much better suited to alternative transportation.
  • Getting large vehicles to islands is expensive.
  • Getting adequate fuel to the islands is expensive.
  • Islands are not suited for heavy automobile traffic.
  • petroleum vehicles cause pollution which is part of the problem, not the solution.
  • Active transportation is much more healthy than petroleum transportation.
  • Alternative & active transportation promotes more resident/tourist interaction. island bike path near ocean
  • Active transportation infrastructure is much cheaper to build and maintain than roads.
  • Car-free islands are attractive to tourists in general and desirable/responsible tourists specifically.
  • Alternative transportation is MUCH safer than automobile transportation.

Unique Infrastructure Options For Unique Islands

There is no one right infrastructure option for all islands. As the chart above shows, there are numerous transportation solution possibilities. Depending on the island size, industry and resources, each island has the option to build an infrastructure that will suit their needs. However, the further you Bermuda island bike trail move down the chart above, the more expensive it is to build your infrastructure, the less environmentally friendly your infrastructure is and the less healthy your infrastructure is. If your island just utilizes the top two tiers from the chart above, you are an incredibly green, healthy, tourist-friendly and economically sound island. Moving on to level 3 (cargo trucks) allows for more movement of goods and can be fine if extreme limits (time, roads, destinations) are placed on the cargo vehicles. The next step down allows for mass transit. Once again, this could be a sound option, as long as infrastructure is designed to strictly limit where the buses/trains go and to allow for safe pedestrian/bicycle crossings. Below this level, the infrastructure becomes less environmentally friendly and less safe. Yes, even scooters are a big problem, especially when compared to pedelec bicycles.

Benefits of Car-Free Islands bicycle trail on island

Car-free islands have numerous benefits. In most cases islands are the perfect geographic locations for alternative transportation. Some of the benefits of car-free islands include:

  • Safety (Automobile accidents are one of leading cause of death & injury on islands & throughout the world.)
  • Less traffic (Islands are much more susceptible to traffic jams due to limited space & resources.)
  • Much less infrastructure costs (Building & maintaining trails is exponentially less expensive than roads.)
  • More healthy (Active transportation provides beneficial exercise for residents & visitors.)
  • Tourist attraction (Being car-free sets an island apart. It attracts tourists for all the reasons in this list.)
  • Less stressful (traffic jams = stress… nuff said)
  • Environmentally friendly (Bikes and electric bikes create almost no pollution.) Bermuda Railway Trail
  • Friendlier (Spend time on a road, then on a bike trail. See which one has happier, healthier & friendlier people.)
  • Better for wildlife (Cars kill!! Not only people but birds & other animals.)
  • Space saving (Cars & trucks take up lots of space. Not only on the roads, but also at homes, in towns & near businesses. Storing bikes is much more space-efficient than storing cars.)

Successful Car-free or Car-limited Islands

The idea of limiting automobiles on islands isn’t a new one. It has been successfully implemented on islands already. And these islands are often featured as best islands for visiting or living in major publications and lists. Some of these islands include:

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Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2017/09/20/opportunity-improve-island-infrastructure/

Sep 13

Electric Bikes on Trails Update

Electric Bikes Becoming Popular on Trails…

island bike path near ocean

Trails in Paradise

The Trailsnet blog post entitled Electric Bikes on Trails is still the most commented on post in our decade-long history, and it is in the top-ten most viewed posts of all times. Electric bicycles on trails is a hot topic with Trailsnet viewers, and most of you seem to be in favor of them. But many things have changed since our last electric bike blog post. For one thing, more communities have begun to allow e-bikes on trails. Locally, the city of Boulder, CO has approved one of the more lenient electric bike rules and regulations among major trail-towns in the United States. Even more locally, the town of Louisville, CO has begun to allow electric bicycles on trails, but with a few more restriction than Boulder. I have also noticed a major increase in the number of electric bikes on the US 36 Bikeway that runs between Boulder and Denver.

… But More Consistency Needed Regarding Electric Bike Rules

installed OmniWheel electric wheel

OmniWheel on a Cruiser

You’ll notice that I didn’t say “more rules are needed.” I said more consistency is needed. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that the e-bike rules were pretty similar whether you were in Montana or Maine? Wouldn’t it be nice if the electric bike rules were similar whether you were on a rail-trail, an urban trail, a paved trail or a rural trail? Wouldn’t it be nice if there was one website you could visit where you could plug in a zip code or town name and get the e-bike rules for trails clearly spelled out with no ambiguity? It will happen and hopefully sooner rather than later. We shouldn’t have to worry about going to a community like Glenwood Springs, CO and getting a $1,000 ticket for riding an electric bike on the local trails. Electric bicyclists aren’t criminals. In general, they aren’t even fast or reckless. They’re are commuters and recreationalists who enjoy riding the trails, enjoying the outdoors and being responsible, environmentally-friendly citizens.

Electric Bikes on Trails Survey

It’s been awhile since we’ve surveyed Trailsnet readers about electric bicycles on trails, so I’ll be adding a Twitter e-bike survey soon. Remember to follow Trailsnet on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn & Instagram.

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Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2017/09/13/electric-bikes-trails-update/

Aug 04

Coffee for the Trail

Stoked Coffee for the Trail

instant coffee photo

Stoked Stix Coffee

Outdoor coffee enthusiasts rejoice!! Now there’s a coffee company that caters to those of us who love drinking smooth coffee in the great outdoors. Stoked Coffee Roasters is headquartered in Hood River, Oregon and provides us with the perfect coffee for those of us who enjoy our caffeine while out on the trail.

What Makes Good Coffee for Outdoor Enthusiasts?

Whether you are a backpacker, bike-packer or car camper, you want coffee that meets the following criteria:

  • tastes good (duh)
  • easy and convenient to pack (doesn’t take up too much room)

    photo of dog, daypack & coffee

    Great Outdoor Coffee

  • easy to make (no electric outlets in the wilderness)
  • versatile (hot in the morning, cold in the afternoon)

Stoked Stix instant coffee meets all those requirements. A box of Stoked Stix comes with eight .12 ounce packets of instant coffee. The packets (sticks) of coffee are extremely easy to stow in a backpack or daypack without taking up much room or making a mess. I transferred my Stix to Ziplock bags as an added precaution and for easy access. Making coffee with Stoked Stix was about as easy as it gets. The instant coffee powder mixes easily with either hot or cold water. So I was able to enjoy hot coffee in the morning and cold coffee in the afternoon. And best of all, the coffee was delicious. I’m a cold-brew coffee fan because I like my coffee smooth and rich. I found Stoked Coffee Stix to make coffee that wasn’t bitter and could easily be mixed to whatever strength I desired.

Other Stoked Coffees

Stoked Stix Coffee review

Great Camping Coffee

If you’re about to hit the trail for a week of backpacking, then Stoked Stix is definitely the way to go. As mentioned above, they are lightweight and convenient for stowing in a backpack. But what about for back home or for car camping? Stoked also makes a line of Signature Series Coffee Blends that are great for brewing a pot of hot coffee or even whipping up a batch of bodacious cold-brewed coffee. So, my recommendation to all of you Trailsnet fans is to visit the Stoked Roasters website and add a box (or two) of Stoked Stix and at least one bag of Stoked coffee or espresso beans to your shopping cart. You love the great outdoors, so your coffee should be crafted with the outdoors in mind. Stoked coffee is going to be an essential supply on my backpacking list. Once you give it a try, I think you’ll feel the same way.

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Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2017/08/04/coffee-for-the-trail/

Jun 16

Lost Coast Trail, California

Lost Coast Trail

Every once in a while, I find an interesting trail blog post that I’d like to share with Trailsnet subscribers. I hope you enjoy this post about the Lost Coast Trail.

UPDATE – King Range National Conservation Area: As of January 9th, 2017, all permits for backcountry camping within the wilderness area of King Range will be exclusively available through http://www.recreation.gov. Reservations are now $10 per permit. There is now a quota system attached to use of the area, which allows for 60 entries per day during […]

via Lost Coast Trail, California — besthike.com

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2017/06/16/lost-coast-trail-california/

Apr 28

Should Pedal-Assist E-Bikes Be Allowed on Paved Trails?

Please take our latest Trailsnet Twitter poll to let us know what you think of electric bicycles on paved or cement trails.

2 Wheel Gear Pannier Backpack Convertible

Electric Bike on Trails

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2017/04/28/pedal-assist-electric-bikes-allowed-paved-trail/

Apr 23

Are Trails Necessary?

Do We Really Need Trails?

Glenwood Canyon bike trail

Glenwood Canyon bike path

This trail blog post is in response to a post on the Great Plains Trail website titled Are Long Distance Trails Necessary? It’s a good question, and the blog post already covers the more existential issue of “what do you consider necessary.?” But I’d like to approach the same topic from a slightly more general viewpoint regarding whether any trails are necessary. So to begin this discussion, let’s ask another pertinent question:

Are Roads Necessary?

Judging by the amount of money we spend on them and how much they are utilized, I’d say that most people would probably argue that they are necessary. Many political campaigns are based heavily on improving “infrastructure” with a huge percentage of that infrastructure spending going towards roads. So that brings us to the next question: What are roads good for? Fortunately, the answer to that question is all too simple and can easily be summed up in one word: transportation. That’s it in a nutshell. Roads provide transportation… period… full stop.

Are Trails Necessary?

So then we move on to the question du jour. Are trails necessary? Well if those trails are solely for recreation, many people would argue that they are not necessary. They are nice. They are scenic, they are fun. But they aren’t all that necessary. Instead they are convenient or enjoyable. But are trails solely for recreation? Those of us who are avid trail advocates know that they are indeed a great form of recreation, but they provide much more than just recreation; they also provide exercise and… in many cases… transportation.

Are Trails Used for Transportation?

French soldiers march on the Moselle River Trail in France.

troops on the trail

Not only are trails used for transportation, but they were the original transportation infrastructure worldwide. They may also be one of the most efficient modes of transportation from numerous standpoints. First of all, they are available to literally everyone. Trails do not require expensive vehicles, licenses and fuel consumption. So trails are available to 100% of the people, unlike roads that generally require some form of vehicle in order to navigate them safely and efficiently. Secondly, trails provide an environmentally sound form of transportation, unlike roads. The vast majority of trails are navigated by walkers and bicyclists. These trail users do not cause pollution nor do they require the burning of fossil fuel. Third, trails provide exercise while simultaneously providing transportation. The ultimate example of poor time management is when people get in their cars and drive to the gym for a workout. It makes so much more sense to combine exercise and transportation by walking, running or bicycling to a destination, whether it is to work, the grocery store or your local coffee shop. And a huge argument in favor of using trails for transportation is the safety factor. Nearly 1.3 million people die in road crashes each year. That comes to an average 3,287 road deaths per day. I would be glad to share the statistics for trail deaths but, as with most trail-related topics, no such comprehensive data exists for two reasons. Nationwide and worldwide trail data is not compiled by anyone. And trail deaths are nearly non-existent compared to road deaths. Trails are simply much safer than roads. And finally, for those who look only at monetary output as the sole arbiter of worth, trails are substantially less expensive to build and maintain than roads/highways.

How to Make Trails a Vital Part of the Transportation Infrastructure

trail sign to help people on trail tours.

This way to great trails

Connectivity– We need to do a much better job of connecting trails to both important destinations (cities, towns, schools, businesses, etc.) and to other trails. We have way too many “trails to nowhere.” This might be fine for trails that are solely recreational. But if trails are to become a vital part of our transportation system, then we need to start connecting them.

Inclusiveness – It is fairly elitist and non-inclusive to limit vital trails to only one or two user groups such as hikers and bicyclists. This is one of the reasons trails are seen as only recreational rather than as a mode of transportation. Trails should be much more inclusive and welcoming to such user groups as equestrians, electric bicyclists (See Trailsnet post about Electric Bikes on Trails.) and other (non-internal combustion engine) personal transportation vehicles (stand-ups, etc.) 

Communication – When it comes to making trails an important part of our transportation system, one of the biggest changes that needs to happen is in the realm of communication. Most people don’t even know about the wonderful trail system we already have. The trail support groups are too disparate and splintered. There is no single clearinghouse for trail information and communication. Instead we have websites and organizations that promote rail-trails, mountain bike trails, backpacking trails, running trails, urban trails, long-distance trails, equestrian trails, hiking trails, park trails…. But no one clearinghouse for ALL trails. United we stand, divided we fall. Or in the case of trails, divided we fail to prosper.

So Are Trails Necessary?

The answer is simple. They should be. But currently, they aren’t viewed as necessary by the powers that be. We can change that, if all trail groups unite and make our voices heard. Once trails are viewed as necessary.. for recreation AND transportation AND the environment AND for exercise/health… then funding will follow and trails will be built and trail use will increase and trails will be connected and we will live in a world where trails are an integral part of our overall infrastructure. That should be the ultimate goal of all trail enthusiasts and supporters.

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2017/04/23/are-trails-necessary/

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