There is something so American about packing up your bags and going on a coast-to-coast drive across the entire United States of America. However, as our generation becomes more outdoorsy and environmentally conscious, perhaps this iconic road trip will be done on bicycles as opposed to automobiles.
- Related: The American Perimeter Trail- 12,000 Miles of What Could Be The Longest Thru-Hike in the U.S.
A coast-to-coast bike trail is currently under construction that will traverse 12 states, from Washington DC to Washington. Named the Great American Rail-Trail, it will stretch 6,000km long and will be usable by 50 million Americans living within 80km of the route.
Amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic, it has become clear how valuable these trails are for commuting, as well as outdoor recreation. In an effort to socially distance, many people switched to bicycling and walking to work to avoid cramped public transportation. Trails like the Great American Rail-Trail help to make these commutes safer and more accessible.
Millions of Americans who began working remotely discovered a need for physical activity in their otherwise sedentary working-from-home lifestyles. With gyms and other exercise facilities shutdown, many people turned to trails like this one for physical activity. The bicycle industry has absolutely exploded amidst the pandemic, and many companies have struggled to keep up with the increased demand. Clearly bicycling is on the rise, and hopefully, trails like the Great American Rail-Trail will only continue to fuel American’s desire to ride bicycles.
Could the development of a trail like the Great American Rail-Trail cause a significant shift in the way we travel on a day to day basis? In Amsterdam, traveling by bicycle is considered to be one of the great “equalizers” because everyone rides bicycles as their main form of transportation, regardless of their demographic. This is because Amsterdam’s infrastructure and extensive bike paths make bicycling the easiest, quickest, and most convenient way to travel. The United States, built on consumerism and materialism has always seen automobiles as a symbol of wealth, freedom, and convenience. However, with the development of the Great American Rail-Trail, bicycling as a form of transportation will become more convenient than ever before. This, combined with Americans becoming more environmentally conscious and more inclined to participate in outdoor activities, could potentially shift the way in which we travel on a day to day basis. If the automobile symbolized America during the height of the American Dream; perhaps the new symbol of America will be a road biker wearing speed shades and a full Lycra suit, pedaling away into the sunset, deep in one of the adventures that we, as Americans, are known for.