California - 10 Great Things Happening in the Golden State

Posted 08/29/13 by Jake Lynch in America's Trails, Success Stories

California. It sure is a unique bird. That is doubly true when it comes to trails and active transportation planning. A massive space populated with a mixture of booming metropolises, sprawling suburbs, and sparse rural areas, the Golden State's budgetary position of late has forced locals to be creative, and determined, when it comes to building trails and safe places for people to bike and walk.

All through September we are celebrating those creative and determined locals, and putting on a pedestal the leaders and local governments that are making trail building possible.

As a kickoff, here's 10 Great Things Happening in California, and we think they are awesome...

(Got a lot of love for your local trail project? Know a volunteer or advocate worthy of a round of applause? Keen to shine the spotlight on a group that could use a helping hand? Then let us know. Post to our facebook page, or email me at

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1. Rail-with-trail is so hot right now, none more hyped (deservedly so) than the Santa Cruz Coastal Rail Trail (right), a 31 mile rail-with-trail project currently in the works. Santa Cruz County has purchased the corridor and is now working on the details of an amazing trail that will parallel a tourist train (and possible future commuter train) while looking out over the beautiful Pacific. Shout out to Calif. Congressman Sam Farr, who deserves a lot of credit for pushing this innovative project to the 'real' stage.

2Everyone pulling together for the Richmond Greenway. Toody Maher, founder and director of Pogo Park, is just one of the energetic, community-minded locals turning a simple, urban trail into what it really wants to be - a place of gathering and fun and growing and hanging out with neighbors. Like a speech at the Oscars, it's a long list butFriends of the Richmond GreenwayUrban TilthGroundwork Richmond and Rich City Rides deserve significant props for rolling up the sleeves and working together to build a great thing for the city. 

3The extension of the Iron Horse Regional Trail in Pleasanton. Nice work, East Bay Regional Park District, which started work in May on a 1.5-mile extension of the Iron Horse that will connect the Pleasanton-Dublin BART station to regional businesses and employment centers. Pretty smart.

4. Yeah, we love the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) project. More on this later - it's going to be our Trail of the Month for September.

5Bike sharing. The Bay Area launched its first ever comprehensive bike sharing program, well, today!, bringing cheap and accessible bike transpo to San Francisco, Redwood City, San Jose, Mountain View and Palo Alto. Orange County launched its own bike share program in late 2012 and word is there are more pilots to come. Roll on, people.

6. "I wasn't that scared. I wasn't. Sincerely." So said the loveable Vern in one of the great moments of one of the great American movies of all time.They're making a rail-trail - the Great Shasta Rail Trail - across the "Stand By Me Vern and Gordy Running From the Train" bridge (left). Enough said. Everything about that is awesome.

7. The views have always been amazing, but riding the Modoc Line Rail Trailthrough the high desert landscape in the northeast of the state has been a bit of challenge without an ATV. So it's great to hear the Lassen Land and Trails Trust is working on improvements to three priority segments of this 86-mile shared use trail, work supported by the California Parks and Recreation Off-Highway Vehicle Division.

8The Bizz Johnson Bus. The Bizz Johnson National Recreation Trail is truly one of the most beautiful rail-trails anywhere, particularly in the fall. But, you know, it can be a haul. So the enterprising folks at Bureau of Land Management, Lassen Land and Trails Trust and the Susanville Area Bicycle Association have teamed up with Lassen Rural Bus to offer "Ride the Bus, Bike the Bizz!" Get a ride to the trailhead, pedal back to your car. Perfect. Call ahead though: 530.257.3252

9Reedley Community Parkway outside Fresno. We've never seen a local volunteer and donation effort like this. Here's a quick list of donations by local businesses and fundraising: $63,000 in donations, 23 benches, 2 drinking fountains, 2 bicycle racks, a kiosk for community events, 3 picnic tables, 2 donor boards with more than 100 tiles, 1 art sculpture, 1 ornamental fountain, 3 dog waste dispensers, 1 mural celebrating the town's history, 1 gazebo, and landscaping by student volunteers from Reedley College. Amazing.

10Hub City Teens of Compton (right). We've been working with these guys on efforts to clean up and improve the Compton Creek Trail. They'd make our Top 10 list of anything. While we're at it, local news blog deserves all the credit for being the first LA news outlet to devote some coverage to this great, all volunteer community effort to get more folks biking and walking. Check 'em out. Not for the meek.

11. Okay, we've turned the list up to 11. Couldn't leave off The Pacific Electric Inland Empire Trail. When we reached out to our friends in California to ask them about their favorite new development over there, a lot of them said "the new trail in Fontana." Sure, it still needs some improvements but those will come with the numbers. Congratulations, Fontana, for this huge improvement to bikeability in your city.

All through September we'll be sharing California news, events, campaigns and general goodness, and we need to hear from you. Using #RTCCali, get on our facebook page, retweet the tweets @railstotrails, post some pretty pictures to our instagram page @railstotrails, and help us spread the word about the good things happening in the Golden State.

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