NARP Life Member Talks Trains with Iowa Cyclists
July 24, 2013
Written By Malcolm Kenton
NARP Life Member and former Board member Lance Erickson has been a member since the year NARP was founded, 1967, and has generously supported the Association and spread the word about our cause in various venues since then. On Tuesday, cyclists participating in the RAGBRAI, the Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, rode through Perry, Iowa, a small town 30 miles northwest of Des Moines. The paved Raccoon River Valley Trail, which follows an abandoned railroad right-of-way that dates to the 1870s and was once part of the Milwaukee Road empire, runs through the center of Perry.
The RAGBRAI riders, who rode on public roads (not the trail), made a mid-day refreshment stop near Perry's picturesque former train station. Erickson, who lives nearby, saw this as an opportunity to connect the cyclists both to the trail’s history as a popular passenger train route and to the idea of trains as a modern eco-friendly travel mode that complements cycling.
So Erickson asked NARP to send him a template for a sign that we have used in the past (it was first designed for NARP Board member Jim Churchill to display as a magnet on the side of a Fisker electric car in a Washington-area July 4th parade). He then revised it slightly and invested his own funds to have the sign printed on a 4 by 6-foot posterboard. He mounted it on a large stand and placed it in the grass next to the former station, now the Perry Welcome Depot, so that it would be clearly visible to passing cyclists:
NARP also sent Erickson 100 brochues and a few copies of the latest issue of NARP News, which he gave out to cyclists who paused at the Welcome Center.
NARP heartily commends Erickson for his initiative and for the years of energy he has invested in the cause of reviving passenger train service across the country. And while you don’t have to go to quite the lengths that he did, there are many opportunities to spread the word about passenger train advocacy and NARP’s work in your community. Please see our Volunteer page for ideas, and contact us if you have any questions or need assistance in getting involved.
"Saving the Pennsylvanian (New York-Pittsburgh train) was a local effort but it was tremendously useful to have a national organization [NARP] to call upon for information and support. It was the combination of the local and national groups that made this happen."
Michael Alexander, NARP Council Member
April 6, 2013, at the Harrisburg PA membership meeting of NARP