The Barbados Trailway is a proposed project to promote health and wellness, sustainable transport and tourism in Barbados which would convert the old Barbados Railway reserve from Bulkeley Sugar Factory, St. George to Consett Bay, St. John into an accessible pathway for pedestrians, runners and cyclists. The trail is currently used for an annual hike called the 'Colin Hudson Great Train Hike'.
Rail to Trail Networks have been a popular form of adaptive reuse throughout North America and the United Kingdom where disused rail lines or railway reserves are adapted for use as walking and cycling trails. Promoting healthy lifestyles as well as nature/ heritage conservancy, rail lines and/or rail reserves are ideal pathways for walkers, runners and cyclists. They often offer well-defined paths with the appropriate gradient for comfortable access by pedestrians and cyclists. Given the popularity of the Richard Haynes Boardwalk on the South Coast of the island as a recreational space for pedestrians and runners, this project would convert the old Barbados Railway reserve into an accessible pathway for pedestrians, runners and cyclists like an inland Boardwalk.
Barbados has one of the highest rates of chronic non-communicable diseases (CNCDs) in the Caribbean and in 2014, CNCDs accounted for 80% of all deaths in the island. Caribbean people, including Barbadians, are at a high risk for hypertension and the prevalence of diabetes in the adult population is above the regional and international average. The Ministry of Health and the Chronic Disease Research Centre as well as several health-related NGOs have all called for the greater promotion of physical activity in the population. As a result of limited accessible spaces for walking, Barbadians often resort to exercising in high-traffic areas without dedicated sidewalks or on the highway. There are only a handful of recreational spaces where Barbadians and visitors can walk safely.
For this reason several Health and Wellness Benefits have been identified for the project that will promote walking, running and cycling as part of a healthy active lifestyle:
1) Promotion of Healthy Active Lifestyles -- With the increase in the incidence of CNCDs amongst Barbadians, this project will provide Barbadians and visitors with opportunities to walk, run and cycle to improve their cardio-vascular health and promote overall health and well-being;
2) Access to Recreational Space -- The provision of recreational space in Barbados is often costly due to land acquisition. This project would seek to provide access to all Barbadians regardless of age, gender or physical ability (including persons with disabilities) using existing Crown land; and,
3) Safe and Accessible Pathway -- After several fatal cycling and pedestrian accidents along the island’s main roads/ highways, the Barbados Trailway would be a safe and welcome alternative that would provide year-round enjoyment for runners, walkers and cyclists of varying skill levels. Motorized traffic on the trail would be limited to Emergency personnel only.
The current route that has been identified for the project would establish trailheads at Bulkeley Sugar Factory and Consett Bay. Water, shelter and rest-stops/ picnic areas would be established along the route, and interpretative signage would be posted along the railway trail and particularly at the old railway stations. Interpretative signage can be used to highlight elements of the island’s heritage including: Amerindian settlement; industrial sugar production; slave trade and slavery; technological innovation; transport history; rural settlement patterns and village development; natural and environmental features as well as deliver health and safety messages.
The proposed paved cycle trail from Bulkeley, St. George to Consett Bay, St. John is 16.2km in length. The gradient along the proposed cycle trail is gentle and therefore suitable for all users. The proposed trail would have a paved width of 2.4m, with a 2.1m vegetation free zone on either side of the paved trail. The proposed trail will be landscaped with a variety of trees, including local varieties of fruits for harvesting and/or vending. It is anticipated that among the benefits of the project include the diversification of Barbados' tourism product; localised economic development; and growth in employment.