What to do with those disused rail lines
Turn them into parks!
There’s one near where I live, that crosses my part of the city between Baseline and Hunt Club. Some people use it to walk - themselves, their dog - but most of the time it’s deserted. Unless, I suppose, some shadier types use it to do what shadier types tend to do in abandoned places.
Well. I still think the best use for rail tracks is to run trains on them, so I’d go with that first. But if we insist on not doing much of anything with it, why not turn that into a real park? Why not plant trees, flower beds, gardens that communities living along the track could use to grow vegetables? Why not allow people to raise chickens and, I don’t know, goats there too? Why not make it a space where people could stroll in peace, surrounded by nature (real nature), where kids could play safely away from traffic?
Water fountains. Skateboarding ramps. Benches - with or without inspirational quotes on them. Simple play structures. Tables and chairs. Chess boards. Micro-libraries. Space for art-making. Little stages musicians and other performers can use to fill the air with delight (one hopes).
There’s a movement to reclaim unused or under-used infrastructure and turn these spaces into human-pleasing areas. Like the space under bridges and overpasses. Why not turn those into places where trees (or vegetables, I’m not picky) grow, and maybe even use the sheltered portions underneath as outdoor art galleries?
Like this space you find on the north side of Bank Street under Billing’s Bridge. It’s right by a quiet spot in the river, with ducks splashing about and the perfect amount of shade in the summer. It’s cool, near housing and shops, there’s even a bike path that runs underneath it. But it’s desolate and sad. It echoes, the sound of traffic overhead but mostly the despair of knowing it’s underused. Why? How much would it cost to have flowers and grass and a space for local artists to display their work and fight ugly with pretty? Not much. And how much joy would it bring?
The possibilities are endless. All we have to do is start thinking.