Get those padded spandex shorts ready because a bike path connecting Maine to Florida is quickly becoming a reality.
The nonprofit East Coast Greenway Alliance is collaborating with local groups in states along the East Coast to establish the nation's longest greenway system. So far, one third of the traffic-free spine has already been completed, reports FastCo.Exist.
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The vision for an East Coast Greenway is to establish a long-distance shared-use trail system through 25 states from Calais, Maine, to Key West, Fla. Not counting a couple thousand miles of complementary routes, the spine route will stretch for 2,900 miles. For context, this year's Tour de France covers nearly 2,187 miles.
Traveling along the path by bike, wheelchair or on foot should be painless since the goal is to have it be continuous, firm, packed and around 10 feet wide. "It's about seeing America at the right speed, where you can take in all of the culture around you," Alliance executive director Dennis Markatos-Soriano told CityLab. "And you don't have a windshield between yourself and the community."
Although the Alliance has been working on this since the early 1990s, last year they really picked up the pace. A bunch of partners got involved, revenue jumped 25%, and they have around 40,000 people supporting the organization. FastCo.Exist pointed out that the organization takes a decentralized approach by helping locals do the work, which gives them ownership over their stretches. The whole thing could be done within three years.
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Being from Vermont, I got used to seeing folks of a certain age head to Florida for the winter. Instead of a cramped plane ride, intrepid travelers could pedal there in the future. It would be like our own leisurely version of the Tour de France, with an orange juice toast at the end instead of Champagne.
Granted, going the entire distance would take around two months at a 50-mile-a-day pace. But by the time the riders arrive, those white sand beaches will be an even more welcome sight than ever. Same goes for a relaxing soak in the ocean.
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