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August 2009 - RTC TrailBlog

  • D.C.'s largest mural painted adjacent to future rail-trail

    At left, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty cuts the ribbon with artists and community leaders on the city's largest mural, entitled "From Edgewood to the Edge of the World." Photo: Stephen Miller/Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

    Graffiti has long been a fact of life in the District of Columbia, and the rail corridor that runs through the Edgewood and Eckington neighborhoods in the city's Northeast quadrant is home to plenty of illegal tagging and art. Instead of whitewashing walls only to have them be marked again weeks later, the District government has begun to connect youth with artists who help them hone their skills as part of the city's Summer Youth Employment Program.

    One result of this effort is what is now the city's largest mural, covering a wall over 1,000 feet long adjacent to the Rhode Island Avenue Red Line station and the Metropolitan Branch Trail. A 1.5-mile long section of the trail is currently under construction next to the mural, and will soon connect Northeast neighborhoods to Union Station and downtown.

    The arts group behind the mural is Albus Cavus, which was hired by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities to work with Summer Youth Employment Program participants on the mural, located beside a shopping center. Through our work on encouraging community engagement around the planned trail, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy helped connect the commission and the artists with the shopping center's manager.

    The mural was painted over the summer at a rapid pace, with artists from across the nation moving to the Edgewood neighborhood for the summer to participate. Neighborhood residents appreciate the new art, as well. "The artwork is just amazing," Wayne Sumpter told the Washington Post. "It definitely gets your attention. It wakes you up. When I come through here I'm not thinking about a lot, but the wall stopped me. It pulls you to it."

    UPDATE: A short documentary about the mural was shown on Current TV. Watch it here:

  • N.C. trail begins to reach into downtown Greensboro

    Battleground Avenue in Greensboro, N.C. is a busy suburban commercial strip, a dangerous place for cyclists and pedestrians, as reported by WGHP-TV above. Now, thanks to a voter-approved bond passed in 2000 and federal Transportation Enhancements funds, active transportation has a safe place along this corridor. Construction of the Battleground Rail Trail, located half-a-block east of Battleground Avenue, began in June, with an anticipated completion date of January 2010. The trail will run in a tunnel under busy Cone Boulevard and although it's only 1.3 miles long, the trail will connect with Greensboro's larger rail-trail system, which until now has served less densely-populated areas and large parks. Connecting people with parks is one of the things trails do best, and it's great to see Greensboro make that connection, as well - but the city isn't stopping with this latest addition to its network. Future phases of the Battleground Rail Trail will extend the extra couple miles into downtown, creating a trail system that runs from nearby farms and parks to the heart of this Southern city.

  • Breaking the color barrier: Racial minorities and the outdoors

    Via our Blogroll comes word from Outdoor Afro of the Breaking the Color Barrier in the Great American Outdoors Conference, scheduled for September 23-26 in Atlanta. The conference will feature discussions on what can be done to encourage more people of color to visit our national parks and become physically active. Speakers include Rue Mapp of Outdoor Afro, Majora Carter of Sustainable South Bronx and Carolyn Finney, a UC Berkeley geographer specializing in race and the outdoors. Above, conference organizer Audrey Peterman is interviewed by MSNBC. The theme of the conference dovetails with RTC's Urban Pathways Initiative, which seeks to encourage trail use in urban neighborhoods - a way to connect with nature and get some physical activity that's a bit closer to home than Yellowstone.

  • Minnesota trail sees enforcement of stop sign rules

    Minnesota's Dakota Rail Regional Trail opened in June and has quickly become a popular trail in Hennepin County. Recently, police began ticketing cyclists who do not stop at road crossings with stop signs and KSTP-TV was there to document it. The report doesn't make it clear what the rules are for crossings on this particular trail - for example, it's unclear whether a dismount is required. In addition to being properly enforced, crossings and the rules that govern them must be properly crafted to safely accomodate all types of trail users as well as road users crossing the trail. Notably, the woman interviewed in the report who dismounted with her children and walked across the road was wearing her helmet incorrectly. It's more proof that when it comes to safety, we all have room to improve.

  • Community members envision the Lafitte Greenway - before the planning process has even begun

    The Lafitte Greenway in New Orleans is one of the trails receiving in-depth assistance from RTC as part of the Urban Pathways Initiative. Progress on the trail continues apace - after hosting a successful corridor hike on National Trails Day, more recent advances are summed up in a recent article from the Greater New Orleans Foundation:

    The city has selected Design Workshop of Austin, Texas, to plan and design the project, which will—everyone hopes—break ground next year, and the state has committed $2.6 million from federal Community Development Block Grant disaster recovery funds and $398,000 of state funds for the project.

    Also, Bart Everson, president of Friends of Lafitte Corridor, was interviewed by youth in a local job-training program - and they had a few suggestions for trail amenities they wanted included along the greenway:

    • Playgrounds along the pathway
    • Guardrails along the canal for safety reasons
    • Information signs about ecology, solar energy, energy conservation placed alongside the trail
    • Water fountains
    • Food stands/beverage machines along the trail
    • Trash cans, recycling containers placed along the trail to avoid litter
    • Plastic bag dispensers to avoid dog “bombs” along the trail
    • Benches, picnic tables, social areas located along the trail

    Some of those suggestions - especially the ones involving benches, social areas, food and beverage - might receive a warm reception from Billy Wright, a local restaurant owner who is already anticipating the improved business and community spirit that will accompany the completed trail. He was interviewed by WGNO-TV, which found him bubbling over with ideas and enthusiasm:



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