Nearly two decades ago my wife and I biked the thirty-two-mile Elroy-Sparta State Trail in Wisconsin, the country’s first rail trail. Our experience suggests what we can achieve here by converting the ninety-mileAdirondack rail corridor into a year-round recreation trail. The tourism benefits of the Adirondack Rail
Trail connecting the Tri-Lakes, and extending south to Old Forge, will be substantial.
Wisconsin is situated as far north as our own North Country. Sparta, the self-proclaimed “Bicycling Capital of America,” is similarly removed from major population centers. Sparta’s population is 9,522, not much larger than Saranac Lake’s. And it happens to be at the terminus of a popular bikeway.
According to a 2010 report by the University of Wisconsin, bicycling brings substantial benefits to the state. Bicycle-related recreation and tourism accounted for $924 million in economic activity, which supports more than thirteen thousand full-time jobs. The report also found that $535 million of that economic benefit was generated by bicyclists from other states. The rail-trail system accounts for more than 1.2 million bicycle person-days of use per year.
David Banks, Lake Clear