This week, The Valley Reporter celebrates summer with our annual Fun in the Sun issue. Like all of you, or most of you, we live here because we love to recreate outside.
Our recreation opportunities abound and our visitors and we indulge with passion and enthusiasm. We love our hiking, biking, walking, running, kayaking, paddling, gardening and swimming opportunities during Vermont’s short but amazing summer.
We’re not alone. Recreation is big business in Vermont and beyond. It is smart for our community to be considering investing in recreation through a local option tax.
Recreation is a proven economic driver – which last weekend’s Mad Marathon makes abundantly clear. People can and will make vacation and travel decisions based on recreational options.
Mountain biking is a proven economic driver in Vermont with riders flocking to our state from the north to the south to access trails, lift assisted and otherwise.
This editorial is written from a small town near Lac Saint Jean in northeastern Quebec where there are 8-foot-wide bikes lanes circling the 256-kilometer Blueberry Route around the lake. These bike lanes are separate from the driving lanes – for the most part. Where they are not, well-spaced bollards keep cars from intruding on them.
What is most impressive about the commitment that Quebec has made near Lac Saint Jean is that it is really true what director Phillip Robinson noted in the film “Field of Dreams”: “If you build it they will come.” When you make safe places for people to recreate via bike or by foot, they will come. Entire families traverse this area of Canada by bike carrying panniers and towing small trailers with a week’s worth of camping gear.
Beyond the Lac Saint Jean region of Quebec, there are extensive and rigorous bike lanes on both sides of all roads. They are extensively used by locals and tourists, who are making vacation choices based on recreational opportunities.
It’s clear that this type of commitment to investing in recreation yields results. If we can figure out how to make better and more recreational opportunities happen in our own community, we may well reap the benefits of investing in this type of infrastructure.
People want to play outside in beautiful places. We have the beauty; let’s create the infrastructure.