#StevieMania Sweeps Land of Lincoln
With tour of Illinois over and behind me, one thing is starting to become clear: people love Stevie.
Which I get. A bike and its girl tour the country. New spin on a timeless story. Still, since the whole point of this trip is to bring more attention to America's intermodal connections, and the people who rely on them, it's great to have such a compelling character on my team.
[The] 10,000-mile trip launched on Sunday in New York City, and Chicago was her first destination – a fitting one, since our city is the railroad hub of the nation. After she arrived here on Monday, staffers from Amtrak and the Active Transportation Alliance gave her a grand tour of the highlights of our local rail, path, and parks networks on two wheels.
Studier, a second-year international affairs and geography major at George Washington University in D.C., got the idea for the project, dubbed “Summer by Rail,” while brainstorming ideas for an epic journey using an Amtrak USA Rail Pass...
After she started her internship with NARP, which advocates for improving and expanding passenger rail service, she pitched the idea of riding the Amtrak system to highlight how it connects communities and provides access to local transportation networks. The folks at NARP thought it was a great idea, so they agreed to sponsor her travels and worked with Amtrak to coordinate the trip.
Jonathan was a brilliant riding partner, and I highly recommend reading his full story.
We were also able to travel to the city of Normal, where we met with Mayor Chris Coos. You can read about Stevie's trip around Normal tomorrow on this very blog -- but if you're impatient, you can listen to our interview on WGLT, an NPR radio station run out of Illinois State University, or read their story about the Summer by Rail project:
Studier will spend as much time on the train getting to communities as she will on a bike exploring communities those communities. Part of her internship responsibilities to is to gather "first mile-last mile" data.
"People have to be able to get to the station, particular since so often they're in center-city," said Studier. "We want to talk about ease of access to them. We want to talk about how well transportation networks are integrated. If you can't get to the train station, you can't get on the train."
I mean, I did all the talking. But it's pretty clear why we were there.
It is a little intimidating to think about 34 more days of this kind of activity. But it's shaping up to be quiet a summer. For me, and for Stevie. The bike. The myth. The legend.