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RTC TrailBlog

  • Bike the Peaks!


    The second annual Bay Area Triple Threat bike challenge will be held on Saturday, June 18, 2011. Using only public transportation and their bicycles, riders will ride to the summits of the three major peaks in the Bay Area: Mount Hamilton, Mount Diablo and Mount Tamalpais. All in one day! If not up to the task of three peaks, riders can opt for the Single Summit (Mount Diablo only) or the Double Dip (Mount Diablo and Mount Tamalpais).

    This ride is a celebration of the Bay Area and the vast, interconnected open spaces in the region. The Triple Threat is also helping to promote a more environmentally friendly way of getting out to the region's amazing trails, parks and open spaces. By using public transit and bicycles to access the trails, riders are reducing their impact with less carbon-intensive travel while supporting local public transportation. Transit & Trails helps people find, plan and share outdoor recreation on public transit through a website and mobile version.

    Transit & Trails is a project of the Bay Area Open Space Council, a collaborative of member organizations that work to create trails and protect open space in the San Francisco Bay Area. Learn more and sign up for the challenge today!

    Photo of Mount Hamilton courtesy of the Bay Area Open Space Council.

  • Philadelphia Duo Preps for Climate Ride


    Do you remember the Pedal Pushers, Steph Rio and Sara Lanious? The two Philadelphia friends have been preparing for the fast-approaching Climate Ride--a five-day, 300-mile bicycle trek from New York City to Washington, D.C., on May 13 to 17.

    When Rio and Lanious signed up to ride, they selected Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) as the beneficiary of their fundraising efforts. They had never attempted such a long ride before, and we asked for periodic updates about their training and progress.

    Now, Climate Ride is almost here, and the Pedal Pushers are gearing up for the final push!

    From the Pedal Pushers:

    We are just about one week away from our ride and so excited to get started! Both of us have been upping the mileage on our weekend rides and preparing with gear like padded shorts, which have been a real life saver. Yesterday, Sara participated in the Five Boro Bike Tour in New York City as part of her training, and she has a killer farmer's tan to prove it! 

    Each weekend, you can find both of us doing diligent loops from the city to East Falls and back on West River Drive when it closes to car traffic on the weekends. We are still fundraising to reach our goal of $2,400 each to donate to this great organization! Right now, we have $3,265 and need all the help from supporters like you to reach our goal and donate to Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. We are trying to reach our target by the time the ride kicks off on May 13, so please consider supporting us in our efforts to raise awareness about this organization and donate today!

    Ride On!

    Steph and Sara
    tinyurl.com/pedalpushers2011

    Photos (left to right): Sara Lanious stretching before a ride; Steph Rio on the Schuylkill River Trail in Philadelphia. Courtesy of the Pedal Pushers. 

  • The Blade Trail

    A few weeks ago, we received an e-mail from Sue Thomas of Daytona Beach, Fla. She and her family have sliced across the Southeast on inline skates, sometimes covering as much as 26 miles in a day (they've even used rail-trail mileage to satisfy part of their kids' physical education requirements!). The family's favorite rail-trail is the Silver Comet Trail outside of Atlanta, Ga., and they love exploring new pathways all the time.

    Thomas says these outings have made such an impression on their children that they regularly use rail-trail experiences as a catalyst for essays and poems at school. In fact, Thomas' youngest daughter, 9-year-old Augusta, recently wrote a poem and wanted to share it with the trail community. We were happy to oblige!


    "The Blade Trail"
    by Augusta P. Thomas 

    Through mountains, across rivers,

    My blades are a-flying

    Bike, walk, who would care,

    As I, Augusta, fly through the air?

    Black ice is a pleasure, sand is a scare,

    Worlds retreat to nothing but air!

    Double Push, Double Push, how I love thee,

    As you make me fly like I'm on a flying spree!

    A world with two borders, one on each side,

    Ground and sky meet, and the world seems to fly!

    Crying out loud, "Oh the blue sky will fly!"

    I roll through the woods, allies at my side.


    Photo: Augusta, at left, and her older sisters (her "allies") on the Silver Comet Trail, courtesy of Sue Thomas. 

  • New Orleans Embraces Lafitte Corridor

    The partnership between Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) and Friends of the Lafitte Corridor (FOLC) in New Orleans bore some wonderful fruit earlier this month, with almost 400 people taking part in the annual Hike the Lafitte Corridor.

    Check out a photo slideshow of the event, courtesy of RTC and FOLC.

    The record number of participants notably included 300 first-timers, illustrating the great success RTC and FOLC have had engaging the broader community as “cheerleaders” and educators for the Lafitte Corridor, a 3.1-mile section of unused rail corridor and portage canal that supporters are planning to develop into a greenway and linear park. 

    Organizers were excited to see U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, D-La., and New Orleans City Council members Arnie Fielkow and Susan Guidry join the celebration on the corridor, demonstrating increased political support to move trail development forward. 

    “It was energizing to see hundreds of people walking along the corridor,” says Kelly Pack, manager of trail development for RTC. Pack, along with fellow RTC staffers Stephen Miller and Lindsay Martin, have been working closely with FOLC during the past few years to bring designs for the Lafitte Corridor to life. “The hike provided a wonderful opportunity for community members to learn more about the corridor and to envision how they will use the greenway once it’s built," says Pack. "We were thrilled to be a part of this event.”

    According to FOLC, the city of New Orleans has signed the contract with a local design firm and has issued a “notice to proceed” with trail- and recreation-orientated development of the Lafitte Corridor.

    “In other words, this is very real,” FOLC writes. Stay tuned.

  • On the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail, Everyone Rides

    Merle FerberEach summer in Cheshire, Mass., the community hosts a unique triathlon to help raise money for equipment to help athletes with physical disabilities stay active. The annual event, known as Farnum's Challenge, features Run-Oar-Roll teams that include at least one contestant with a physical disability, and part of the race takes place on the 11-mile Ashuwillticook Rail Trail. The first leg is a 2.6-mile run down to the trail, then a five-mile bicycle dash before handing off to a canoe team in Cheshire Reservoir for a 2.4-mile paddle.

    Now, using $10,000 raised from the annual triathlons, a partnership of local organizations and agencies is introducing a collaborative project to encourage healthy lifestyles and activity for athletes with disabilities. The new program, "Everyone Rides," is designed to outfit disabled users, for free, with adaptive cycling equipment to enjoy the rail-trail and surrounding areas.

    Partners in this innovative program include the Berkshire Bike Path Council, a nonprofit working to develop a 75-mile multi-use pathway from Vermont to Connecticut (the route includes the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail). Also, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation has constructed a shed to house more than 30 pieces of adaptive equipment right along the trail. And United Cerebral Palsy of Berkshire County is providing a physical therapist to fit the equipment to each user's personal needs and coordinate requests to use the bikes. 

    "This collaboration will make it possible for us to ride alongside our friends at our convenience," says Merle Ferber of the Berkshire Bike Path Council. "Now the bike path is truly accessible."

    If you live in the area and want to check out the Everyone Rides program and trail yourself, stop by Farnum's Crossing in Cheshire at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 14, for the grand opening celebration.

    AdLib, Inc., a local nonprofit Independent Living Center, originally organized and sponsored the Farnum's Challenge triathlon for several years. although AdLib will no longer be the lead agency for the triathlon, United Cerebral Palsy and the Berkshire Bike Path Council have partnered to continue the race to raise money for new equipment and maintenance for Everyone Rides. This year, it will take place on July 24. 

    To learn more about the Everyone Rides opening celebration contact Dawn Matthews at 413.442.1562 (ext. 24) or e-mail dmatthews@ucpberkshire.org.

    Photos courtesy of the Berkshire Bike Path Council.

  • Going Dutch

    Story and photos by Sun Kim

    When I visited The Netherlands a few weeks ago, I couldn’t help but notice that bicycles are a major part of the Dutch lifestyle. One of the first things I saw were rows and rows of bicycles parked in garages and racks next to every public transportation station, as well as near most businesses, schools and shopping areas. Some of the stairs at the train stations even have grooves along the sides so cyclists can roll their bikes up as they climb the stairs.

    Out on the streets I saw toddlers and retirees, and everyone in-between, all getting around town on their bicycles. They ride in wide bike lanes that have their own traffic lights. Some of these bike lanes are separated from the car lanes by a small median or a line of parked cars, giving bike riders an extra barrier from car traffic. I also saw that cars and pedestrians often yield to bike riders. I’m guessing that's because everyone who's driving remembers they'll be riding or walking at some other point during the day!

  • New Leash Ordinance and Improved Signage Create Safer Trails in San Jose

    by Yves Zsutty, City of San Jose, Calif., Trail Manager

    In San Jose, we’ve spent a lot of time over the year studying the issue of trail safety. Today’s economic struggles reaffirm the reality that we have to create safer trails through good design, amenities and operational practices instead of hoping for more police or rangers.

    Community outreach helped us define the major safety concerns on our trails. Dog leashes were of concern because their long length was a known tripping hazard. The existing city of San Jose rule for 20-foot retractable leashes was consistent with other parks and open space. However, after the tragic death of a pedestrian who became entangled in a dog leash, staff looked at sidewalk laws that would better reflect the conditions on 12-foot-wide trails. The city then altered its ordinance to permit 6-foot, fixed-length leashes on trails. The rule requires that the person, dog and leash all remain to the right of center line (marked or unmarked).

    New signage is also being deployed with positive messaging. Our Trail Rules sign now uses "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" icons to display key rules, and supplemental signs are being posted along the trails to remind trail users to pass to the left, slow for pedestrians and be aware of hazards or nearby destinations. The graphics-based signage aims to be more memorable than simple text. Mileage markers posted at quarter-mile increments create “addresses” known to our 911 Center so that we can obtain more rapid emergency response and record keeping.

    For more information about San Jose’s efforts, visit www.sjparks.org/trails. See “Reports” for signage guidelines and the ordinance.

    Image of Trail Rules sign courtesy of the city of San Jose. Click for larger version.

  • Watch: Do You Count? Our Webinar on Measuring Trail Use

    A few weeks back, we held a webinar with experts from around the country discussing various methods of measuring trail use.

    As the adage goes, "You can't manage what you don't measure." This rule is especially true for trails, which host a wide variety of transportation and recreation users. Learn how nonprofits, governments and the private sector are using trail counts to better understand bicycle and pedestrian behavior, and how these resources can assist your pathway. We discuss counter technology, volunteer management, using trail counts to conduct economic impact studies and the National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project.

    Presenters:

    • Jennifer Donlon, Alta Planning + Design 
    • Mel Huie, Oregon Metro Regional Government 
    • Eric Oberg, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy 
    • David Patton, Arlington County, Va.

    Read biographies of the webinar presenters (PDF). For more information on RTC's trail user surveys, please visit the Trail-Building Toolbox. Special thanks to Greg Billing of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association for editing assistance.

    Did you watch the webinar? Let us know how we did by completing this survey. Thank you!

  • In Minnesota, Lessons for Managing Suburban Sprawl

    In a blog post originally published by the National Complete Streets Coalition at www.completestreets.org, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy intern Jason Frantz takes a look at the modern development of Red Wing, Minn., a town of 16,000 that recently launched an ambitious Complete Streets program to help mitigate the effects of urban sprawl.

  • Video: RTC Joins Tree Planting on the Met Branch Trail



    Last Thursday, April 21, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) joined Casey Trees out on the Met Branch Trail in Washington, D.C., for a tree planting. RTC and Casey Trees staff were joined by a great crowd of friends, supporters and volunteers to plant golden rain trees and sweet gum along a particularly exposed section of the trail just north of the New York Avenue Metro Station, as well as a strand of fruit trees in one location adjacent to the Rhode Island Avenue Metro Station. 

    "The idea is that we're going to line this section of the trail with trees so that we have a continuous tree canopy, so during the very hot summers in D.C. it will be much cooler, and much more pleasant on the trail," says Heather Deutsch, bicycle program specialist and trail planner with the District Department of Transportation. Deutsch lives right along the Met Branch Trail and is a regular user.  

    The goal of the fruit trees is to create a small orchard that will become a popular community gathering place, with trail users stopping to enjoy not only the shade of the trees but also the persimmons and apples they will bear in a few years.

    For RTC staff, it was a great to roll the sleeves up and work side-by-side with Casey Trees and all the volunteers who came out on a lovely spring day to improve the trail and celebrate Earth Day. A number of passers-by showed their appreciation of the new trees by stopping to say thank you.

    "We are building life with our hands," said Jeff Ciabotti, RTC's vice president of trail development. "What could be better than that?"

    The planting was made possible through RTC's Metropolitan Grants Program (funded by The Coca-Cola Foundation) and supported by D.C.-based BicycleSPACE.

    (Also, read more about RTC's partnership with Casey Trees in the 2011 Green Issue of Rails to Trails magazine!)

  • Detroit Trail Maintenance Project Celebrates Completion of Pilot, Looks to Future

    By Ruby Brunk

    In 2010, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, through its GreenWays Initiative, awarded a $147,433 grant to The Greening of Detroit for a pilot project focusing on the maintenance of local greenways. The resulting project not only kept targeted greenways maintained but also provided jobs and improved community trail usage and stewardship. 

    The Detroit Greenway Maintenance Pilot Project focused on Detroit’s Conner Creek, Southwest Detroit-Dearborn and Lyndon greenways. Before the season began, The Greening’s project manager met with partners from each site to go over specific maintenance details. The three greenways were split into manageable sections, and extensive maintenance surveys were conducted. The Greening developed work plans based on the surveys and kept careful records of all work performed. Four individuals were hired to make up the project’s maintenance crew. In addition to pre-season field orientations, the crew was given an overview on their work in the larger context of greenway development. Crew members also benefited from trainings on tool use, horticulture and landscaping throughout the season.  

    The regular presence of the crew, along with the work they accomplished, boosted morale on the greenway and increased community use and stewardship. Crewmembers reported on daily positive interactions, such as greenway users thanking them for their work or seeking them out to address additional maintenance issues. The community was further engaged by the project’s Growing Greener Detroit Series, which brought together Detroit residents, schools, churches and community organizations for events on the greenway. Partnerships with community centers and the dispersal of 3,000 promotional flyers were part of a concerted outreach effort, resulting in 316 youth and adults from 68 different organizations participating in day camps, tree walks, service days, horticulture workshops and other programming. 

    One of the goals of the Detroit Greenways Maintenance Pilot Project was to develop best practices for Detroit’s current and future greenways. On the Conner Creek, Southwest Detroit-Dearborn and Lyndon greenways, the success of the project is palpable. With the Detroit Greenways Coalition moving the city's trail network forward, this project should help inform the planning of other greenways in Detroit.

    Photo: Detroit's Dequindre Cut Greenway by Flickr user Rex Roof.

  • Iowa's High Trestle Trail--In Less Than Two Minutes!

    Coming up on April 30, 2011, is the grand-opening of the 25-mile High Trestle Trail in Iowa. If you can't make the celebration for this incredible trail, which includes a 13-story-high trestle over the Des Moines River, then take a look at this video of the rail-trail--compressed into less than two minutes of fast-paced fun by the city of Ankeny!

    Also, we'll be out exploring the High Trestle Trail ourselves later this summer for a destination piece in Rails to Trails magazine

  • Award-Winning Documentary Film Coming to Miami April 27

    Ride The Divide, the award-winning feature-length documentary about the world's toughest mountain bike race, will descend on South Florida for two shows at the O-Cinema in Miami on the night of Wednesday, April 27. The event will be a fundraiser for the Virginia Key Bicycle Club.

    The film chronicles the story of several mountain bikers who attempt the 2,711-mile race named the Tour Divide along the Continental Divide in the Rocky Mountains. The movie was named best adventure film at the 2010 Vail Film Festival.

    This film has become an instant cycling classic and made its television premiere in September on the Documentary Channel. But the Adventure Cycling Association says the film should be seen on the big screen: "The cinematography is stunning!" says Epic Riding. "In a word? Fantastic. In more words? Moving, funny, inspiring."

    Ride The Divide embraces the stories of three of the racers who experience the immense mountain beauty and small-town culture as they attempt to pedal from Banff, Canada, to a small, dusty crossing on the Mexican border. There's Mike, a 40-year-old family man who uses this challenge to chart a new course in life; Matthew, a leader in extreme endurance racing who's competing for his 5th time; and Mary, the first female rider to race this route. As they set out, they will attempt to accomplish what very few have been able to do: During the course of a few weeks, they'll attempt to climb more than 200,000 vertical feet along the backbone of the Rocky Mountains.

    They'll experience mental breakdowns, treacherous snow, hellacious blisters and total fatigue. Above all, they'll race with no support--at times in total isolation. The tests of endurance and the accomplished moments throughout Ride the Divide prompt us to reflect on our inner desires to live life to the fullest.

    Reviewing the film, Outside magazine proclaimed that "(t)he toughest bike race in the world is not in France."

    Ride The Divide will be shown at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. at the O-Cinema, located at 90 NW 29th Street in Miami. Tickets are $15 at the door and $10 in advance online purchase. The event is sponsored by Mack Cycles, All 4 Cycling and Scott Skate & Bike of Miami.

    Media contact: Garry Harrington at 603.209.5010 or gharrington3165@hotmail.com.

  • Tree Planting with Casey Trees

    One of the great things about being part of such an active community organization like Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) is getting to partner with our friends in the nonprofit world on projects where we share a common interest.

    For the past couple years, we've especially enjoyed working with Casey Trees, which since 2002 has partnered with the neighborhoods of D.C. to make sure we have enough trees is this urban metropolis.

    Improving the tree canopy of communities has a close relationship to the mission of RTC. Shady areas for rest and relaxation are important amenities for rail-trails, especially in the summer. Strands of healthy trees make trails more appealing places to visit; they also play a crucial role in the broader ecosystem, in busy cities as well as in wilderness areas.

    This Thursday, April 21, RTC and Casey Trees are teaming up to celebrate Earth Day with a community tree planting along the Metropolitan Branch Trail in D.C.

    If you live in the area and use the trail, this is a great chance to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty--improving this vital community facility and partnering with two nonprofits doing great things in your neighborhood.

    There will be snacks and drinks from 3 to 6 p.m. Commuters--stop by on your way home from work!

    For more information and to register as a volunteer, visit Casey Trees' website.

    Photo of tree planting courtesy of Casey Trees.

  • D.C. Couple to Celebrate Anniversary on Climate Ride

    By Stephany Small

    I have lived in the Washington, D.C., area for the past several years and have taken advantage of the amazing trails and commuting routes found throughout the area. In fact, I was car-free for more than five years, using feet and bicycle as my main modes of transportation. Commuting by bicycle is wonderful: It is incredibly economical, the fastest commute and the most time-efficient form of exercise. Plus, it felt great to know that I wasn't contributing to traffic and was making a small impact on preserving our planet.

    For our first anniversary, my husband Doug and I are riding our bikes from New York City to Washington, D.C., as part of Brita Climate Ride. This 300-mile, five-day ride from May 13 to 17 raises support and money for alternative transportation, bike advocacy and protecting the environment.

    I have decided to make Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) the sole benefactor of all funds I raise. I believe in RTC's mission and want to contribute to the growth of trails around the country so others may be able to have the same opportunities for safe, outdoor activities and alternative transportation that I have been privileged to enjoy.

    Please support me as I pedal toward a healthier, safer, happier place for us to live. Any donation you're able to make will go directly to benefit RTC's trail-building work around the country!

    Learn more about Climate Ride, and find out other ways you can get involved.  

    Photo: Doug and Stephany Small, courtesy of the Smalls.

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