To the editor:
I have spoken on the issue of the rail-vs.-trail debate in the Adirondacks. Since then, I am baffled by the lack of compromise that Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates is showing. What is so evil about having a shared-use trail? Please explain this to me.
I question the claims of new jobs to serve the demand of the influx of tourists. Do any of you know how much a full-time bike shop employee makes? Ask the owners of Placid Planet what their projections would be if a rail trail were made. Which leads me to my next point.
Other than Lake Placid, where will people who are going to flock to this trail get their bikes repaired? There is no way a shop will just be opened overnight in Tupper Lake. Most cyclists can't even change a shifter cable these days on the integrated brake/shifter levers. Also, if you get on the trail at Tupper Lake and head south, where are you going?
Let's think about this. You can ride to my old house at Mount Arab Lake. It's pretty. But where do you buy a snack? Or drinks? I challenge most of the trail advocates to saddle up on a full-suspension mountain bike with me and ride the right of way from Tupper to Mount Arab and back. Pretty sure you'll be in for a shock.
Now down to the funding of the trail. The rails are worth very little other than scrap. They definitely won't be bought for reuse. If torn up, who pays for the removal, the regrading and the maintaining of the trail? The taxpayers. Also, I'm sure the massive tax revenues will afford the various agencies manpower, materiel and equipment to do the job properly and regularly.
If the rails stay, everyone seems fixated on passenger service and how it must be subsidized. Most likely, yes. However, if the corridor is reopened, what about freight service? Bulk goods could be brought in like oil, lumber, sand, salt, etc., and get hundreds if not thousands of large trucks off the roads per annum. Isn't that an improvement of the quality of life for all?
I hope that the corridor reopens for both passenger and freight, and I hope a trail can be alongside the rails. Not too hard to do. Also, the passenger trains could have whistle-stops to pick up or drop off users of the trail.
As to my knowledge of cycling, I have had a 22-year career as a competitive cyclist. I was at national team camps at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid as far back as 1990. I raced more than 2,000 events in those 22 years as well as rode more than 250,000 miles on the road alone. I have worked for bike shops, from sales and service to management, at some of the biggest shops in the nation, most recently Bicycle Sport Shop of Austin, Texas. So I have the industry experience and practical, rubber-on-the-road experience.
Compromise, ARTA. Do it. It can only help you and all of us. There are bigger battles to fight to preserve the 'Dacks.