As a recent transplant from Seattle, some of my most memorable cycling experiences were on a spectacular path known as the Burke-Gilman Rail-Trail. This amazing trail meandered through some of Seattle's most vibrant neighborhoods, passing parks, coffee shops, restaurants, and breweries, and beyond -- all the way into suburban enclaves dozens of miles out of town. And the best part about it? We can do the same thing, right here in Vermont!
My wife Caroline and I recently moved back to Vermont, and we did it for all the right reasons. We have easy year-round access to hiking, biking, skiing, and snow-shoeing, and an abundance of delicious restaurants and craft breweries. We live in Montpelier but frequently visit other towns in central Vermont, from the Mad River Valley to Lamoille County. But, we are wimps, and hopping on two wheels to get to these incredible neighboring towns scares us silly. We are craving the opportunity to hop on a safe, calm rail-trail and explore, just like we did back in Seattle. And when we talk to our peers, they feel pretty much the same.
Attracting people our age to Vermont, I assure you, will not be a problem we have for too long, but it's up to all of us to push for policies that will help our beautiful state appealing to young workers and entrepreneurs while maintaining that distinctive character that makes Vermont such a special place to live.
One of the many ways to do just that is to create walkable downtowns and village centers connected by a network of paths and trails that can be used in the summer by walkers and cyclists, and in the winter by skiers, snow-mobiles, and fat-tired bicycles. Living in a place where it's safe to walk everywhere, where you have access to high quality food and world class beer, and where you can quickly hop on a bike and visit the next town over is what young people want and it can be Vermont's future, if we choose to make it happen.
postscript - We are lucky to already have some incredible rail-trails in the state, including the world-class Island Line, the growing Lamoille Valley Rail Trail, and the Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail. For a great article about one journalist's explorations on the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail, check out this article in Seven Days.
Help Advocate for More Rail-Trails