The Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition (SVBC)
The Shenandoah Rail Trail Exploratory Partnership is in an exploratory partnership of local towns, business groups, and non profit organizations advocating for the construction of a 48.5 mile trail from Broadway to Front Royal. The trail would follow the path of a now-defunct rail line, and it has already passed a feasibility study conducted by the state. “The Shenandoah Valley is a really amazing place … but one thing we're really lacking is accessible opportunities for people to bike and walk and recreate away from cars in separate spaces” says Kyle Lawrence, the Executive Director of the SVBC “And so rail trails provide an amazing space … where people can be safe and comfortable and away from traffic.” This unique project has received very broad support from our community.
Railways are particularly well suited to be turned into trails because they offer some unique benefits. For starters, Lawrence says, “you're never going to be able to acquire that property and you're never going to have it graded so that it's accessible.” The smooth grading is especially important considering the hills in our area make more casual biking very difficult. Another benefit to using the former rail line is that it runs through nine different towns and localities as it winds its way down the valley to Front Royal. In many of these towns the trail would run right through the heart of the business district, providing an economic boost and new opportunities to connect these communities. Lastly, the trail would have a plethora of scenic views and crossings of the North Fork Shenandoah River which would make it “one of the most scenic in the state” according to Lawrence.
One misconception that Lawrence is quick to clear up, is that this trail is not just for serious long distance biking. In fact, according to him, “if you look at … rail trails you see regular people, in regular clothes, riding regular bikes. I think a lot of us have this conception of someone in spandex on a really fancy bike, … but that's actually not the target of this trail … and those aren't the people we're going to see … It's people looking for a safe space to ride with their friends, their family, their children.” This trail would be another way to strengthen our community by providing a fun and accessible way to connect with one another.
Fundamentally, this is why Kline May also supports this project. As Lawrence put it “Kline May does a really good job of recognizing all the things that help make a strong healthy vibrant community and so this idea of supporting initiatives that connect our community improve our quality of life.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves!