Hilary Wise, Marie Lawton, Jennifer Regan, John Bennett, Brian Hodges, Geoff Meers , Neil McKenzie.
Hilary Wise, Marie Lawton, Jennifer Regan, John Bennett, Brian Hodges, Geoff Meers , Neil McKenzie. Jasmine Burke

Why did this American donate $17k to the rail trail?

THE Northern Rivers Rail Trail has been given a boost with a $17,500 donation from a cycling enthusiast.

Brian Hodges moved to the area one year ago from Santa Barbara and lives 500m away from the disused rail track in Brooklet.

"It was clearly on my radar and I was curious as to what led to the demise of the train, and my initial thoughts were it would be great to have a train service restored," Mr Hodges said.

"Digging a little deeper I discovered there were real economic issues related to the viability of the train and the infrastructure investment and then I learnt of the organisation and it made much more sense to me.

"I think the community benefits will be much greater and I've seen successful examples of this in the states and New York."

Mr Hodges said as a cyclist he would be an avid user of a rail trail.

"I feel that there's a big problem with usable roads to cycle on here - they seem to be quite narrow and dangerous," he said.

"I recently moved to Australia and we shipped a container over with all of our goods and seven bicycles."

The bikes in his possession included an electric hybrid bicycle, mountain bike and beach cruiser.

"Regrettably, they are gathering dust. It's something I did daily in California," Mr Hodges said.

"I'm eager to get back on a safe place and use my bicycle not just as a recreational tool but something I can use as a functional device ... go shopping with it and use it for transportation."

Northern Rivers Rail Trail secretary Geoff Meers said one of the main drivers of the group was to help people have a healthy recreation.

"The donation is going to help us generate a good business case and hopefully get some funding," Mr Meers said.

"We have got some funding in the Tweed end but this is the Casino to Bangalow end of the trail.

"To get funding, you need to have a decent business case."


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