No summary of the great trails, biking and walking activity in California would be complete without recognizing the remarkable contribution of San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox.
As Mayor of Chula Vista back in the 1980s, when being a champion for biking and walking was not as popular as it is today, Cox led a groundbreaking regional effort to build to a 24-mile, class I bike path looping around San Diego Bay. Today, the Bayshore Bikeway connects five city jurisdictions and a number of parks and recreation facilities, and has become a nationally renowned rail-trail often held up as an example of trails that serve a wide cross-section of the community.
Cox continues that work today as a member of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, a role he has filled since 1995. His ongoing support of local biking, active transportation and community organizations has endeared him to another generation of Californians.
Displaying his intuitive understanding of what makes communities sustainable and successful, as president of the California State Association of Counties and the League of California Cities Cox brought together a bipartisan coalition to consider active transportation as an integral component of smart growth.
These are just some of the reason we named Supervisor Cox one of the 25 inaugural Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Rail-Trail Champions in 2011. On that occasion, he passed the grant awarded in his honor to the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition, further evidence of his support for the grassroots of the active transportation movement.
During this special California month here at RTC, Supervisor Cox was kind to enough to lend us a few words about why biking and walking has been such a focus of his career:
"Our nation has a rich, vibrant history of rail travel. In San Diego, we embrace and celebrate our by past by linking our transportation corridors to our vast network of trails. In my district in San Diego, we have created a bikeway along the old Coronado Belt Line, which was used as access for freight and passengers around San Diego Bay to Coronado. Converting unused rail rights of way into trails is a popular practice around the country thanks to the advocacy and support of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.
"There’s a saying that if you really want to see a country, you go by rail. I believe that if you really want to know your community, you go by bike. By converting and connecting rail lines to bikeways, we are taking an underutilized feature of our urban landscapes and turning them into recreational amenities that provide for exercise, recreation and, most of all, open up our little corners of the world for all to enjoy."