I rarely disagree with The Gazette’s editorials, but the March 22 piece objecting to a proposed statewide bike trail really missed the mark.
As a kid, I enjoyed biking the Rotterdam portion of the trail, and 30 years later I joined the hundreds who enjoy weekend runs all year long on the Niskayuna portion, including Leukemia Society’s Team in Training and other clubs. You can’t deny that the bike trail has improved the quality of life in our area — it’s great for recreation and connection to the river.
So the Empire State Trail, proposed in this year’s New York state budget, would extend that trail across the state, from Albany to Buffalo, bringing those same benefits to many more New Yorkers and connecting all the existing pieces into one continuous trail. How cool would that be? I’d ride my bike to Buffalo.
The Gazette argued that New York state has enough trails — how short-sighted. It’s like saying that our town has a library or a park, so the rest of New York should be happy without one. Across the United States, rails-to-trails projects have been popular. And long, continuous trails have become tourist attractions.
The Gazette’s argument was about money — saying we should spend the money on fixing roads and bridges. But let’s be serious. The budget is $200 million out of a $152 billion budget — with a “B.” That means that one-tenth of 1 percent of the state’s budget would be spent on this project, compared to billions dedicated to road repair.
If there is one thing you can count on in upstate New York, it’s that there will be potholes to fix every spring. But cyclers, hikers and stroller-pushers pay taxes, too, and many recognize that the Empire State Trail would be a great investment in a better and more fun upstate New York.