I asked my Binghamton, NY friend to suggest an area for us to visit for a few days. She would have a change of scenery and we could both visit some place new to us. She read about the “Walkway Over the Hudson” so we decided to visit the Hudson River Valley which is miles north of New York City.
The “Walkway Over the Hudson” is a pedestrian, steel, 1.28 mile cantilevered bridge, 212 feet above the Hudson River. Visitors … walkers, bicyclists, joggers … can access it from Poughkeepsie, NY on the east or Highland, NY on the west side of the river. It is the longest, elevated pedestrian bridge in the world and the connector for what is an 18 mile rail trail connecting both sides of the river. We walked the bridge from both ends on 2 beautiful sunny days. Many people were also enjoying their time on the bridge, looking out on the landscape and the nearby Mid-Hudson Bridge for cars, etc.
Along the bridge are interpretative signs explaining the local area’s rail history as this once was a major rail corridor. The bridge was abandoned after a 1974 fire, but fortunately with many partnerships involving public, governmental and private entities provided funding for the bridge renovation it opened as a State Historic Park in October 2009. All across our country abandoned rail corridors are more often used for trails … interested in knowing more? Check out https://www.railstotrails.org
A couple of things I noticed: not a piece of litter was seen anywhere on the bridge, people, for the most part, walked the side lanes while bicyclists rode the middle lanes, bells are required on bicycles, a mental health telephone is on the bridge … maybe the result of a young person who jumped to his death in April 2021 … and there were many people enjoying the outdoor space each day we were there. Apparently 600,000 people will walk the bridge within the year! We had two beautiful sunny days and after the last couple of weeks of cold and rain I was a happy person, plus I was with my best NY friend!
When bicycling on a bike path, here’s what to like:
1. Seeing people be active; roller blading, walking, jogging, bicycling. Even blind people can enjoy this space.
2. Knowing the bike path is a valued piece of real estate in a community. You can bicycle many places in the world; paths are available.
3. Seeing people support each other; a victory sign, a thumbs-up, or a hello from one to another. No other language needed beyond a smile.
4. Knowing people are choosing to cycle to the local coffeeshop or farmers market rather than use a motorized vehicle. Follow that person to some place fun!
5. Seeing a person help another person when a tire is flat or a chain is jammed. We all appreciate a helping hand!
6. Knowing there are railroad tracks being converted to bike trails (thanks to people who support Rails to Trails Conservancy).
Simply enjoying outdoor weather, wildlife, camaraderie and to know
the bike path will be here tomorrow to enjoy alone or with others. Actually, I love it!
I do not remember where I was 5 years ago when I heard about a shooting at a Tucson Safeway store. I heard people were gathered outside there to listen to Gabby Giffords speak, this young girl: Christina-Taylor Green was one individual in attendance. Gabby was severely injured, Christina-Taylor was killed and many other spectators were part of the horrific moment.
Now five years later there is a section of the Tucson bike path with an area, and future cacti garden, to commemorate Christina-Taylor’s memory. Her father, John Green, spoke about his family’s use of the recreational areas nearby and their use of the bike path. The family has plans to continue developing a couple of acres of land here with everyone’s financial support.
The bicycling group I was with the day of this presentation did bike ride to attend this plaque unveiling and rode to the Safeway store where flowers were present. It’s unfortunate we in the USA are still amidst such gun violence, but I have hopes we will always remember those we have lost and work toward a safer USA.