I have had some very fun excursions on rail trails, disused railways turned into pedestrian/bike paths. The trails typically go through very beautiful areas and rarely do you have to concern yourself with motorized traffic of any kind.
Reader Will appears to be interested in rails as well, but he wants to ride on them - literally. Check it out -
Will included the following text -
A rail-bike is a bicycle that has been modified to be able to ride on the rails of a railroad. The front wheel has a device attached to it so that the bike won’t steer off the rail while an outrigger is used to support the bike using the other rail.
I used conduit, cut up “razor” scooters parts, one bike fork two bits of steel and numerous nuts, bolts, washers and retaining pins. Nothing is welded. The hardest part is getting the spacing right so that friction and play are minimized.
A lot of person hours certainly went in to this working model and the details are pretty amazing.
New projects are sometimes learning experiences and Will also wrote -
Seems I became a bit to confident in my design, and while traveling at somewhere around 16 MPH I had a derailment. The guide in the bike side caught a rail tie stopping the bike immediately, and as I was traveling over the bars, the frame bent behind the lugs at the head tube, seat tube and bottom bracket, so the fame is a total loss.
Ouch! Will has noted that he will continue his pursuit of a safe rail bike and will keep us updated. Additional photos and commentary of this project can be found on the Velospace.org Forum.