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May 2011 - RTC TrailBlog

  • New Rail-Trail in Delaware a Key to Transportation Future

    In a speech to mark National Bike to Work Day on May 2, Cleon Cauley, Sr., the acting secretary of the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT), said cycling and trails were vital to the future of mobility. 

    Cauley's words were music to the ears of cycling and sustainable transportation advocates in Delaware, many of whom attended the Bike to Work Day launch at the University of Delaware's Newark Campus. The event was organized by the Newark Bicycle Committee, a partnership of cyclists and agencies working to improve options for bicycling in one of the state's most populous cities.

    "DelDOT is committed to continuing our efforts to make Delaware more bicycle friendly," Cauley said. "In the coming years, our transportation needs will change. As fuel prices continue to rise, more people will park their cars. They will walk, ride their bikes or ride a bus. We have already seen dramatic increases in the past two years. To ignore this trend is to do a great disservice to the people of Delaware."

    Delaware, like many American states, is struggling to provide adequate, safe bike lanes and facilities for the burgeoning fleet of residents who choose cycling as a regular form of transportation. According to Cauley, there were 158 car/bicycle accidents in Delaware in 2010, 96 percent of which resulted in injury. More than a fifth of those accidents involved children younger than 15.

    "Like most of you, I find those numbers unacceptable," Cauley said. "We must provide better facilities for bikes, and we must have fewer people getting killed."

    Part of Newark's plan to accommodate more walking and biking now includes a proposed rail-trail traversing the city from north to south. The Pomeroy Trail, a multi-use asphalt trail along the inactive Pomeroy Rail Line (out of use since 1939), is expected to open later this year, connecting White Clay Creek State Park and the existing James F. Hall Trail north of the city with residential areas and a transit hub to the south.

    The Pomeroy Trail will be well-lit along its two-mile length and will feature three informational kiosks dedicated to aspects of the line's history.

    "This is a very exciting week for us," said Newark Mayor Vance Funk. "For four years, we've been working on the Pomeroy Trail. The trail came about because Senator Thomas Carper gave us more than $5 million to build it. Finally this week, we're sending out the bid package. Hopefully, we will award the contract in late June, and we will finally see it built."

    The state of Delaware has been praised in recent years for its concerted efforts to promote cycling and non-motorized transportation in urban areas. Cauley said much of this momentum was a direct result of political leadership.

    "Many of the recent changes have come directly from Governor Jack Markell, who has made it very clear that Delaware must become more bike friendly," Cauley said. "He made this challenge to us not because he is a cyclist himself, but because he can see what we must do to prepare for the future."

    A few weeks ago, in fact, both the Delaware House and Senate voted unanimously to direct the DelDOT to "create contiguous systems or networks of walkways and bikeways within and between cities and towns in Delaware in order to provide travelers with the opportunity for safe, convenient, cost-effective and healthy transportation via walking and bicycling."

    For more information about other rail-trails in Delaware, visit RTC's free online trail-finder website, www.TrailLink.com

    Photos (top to bottom): James F. Hall Trail, which will connect to the Pomeroy Trail; Pomeroy Trail Bridge in White Clay Creek State Park, by Heather Dunigan. 

  • Newburyport Celebrates Rail-Trail's First Year

    The Clipper City Rail Trail in Newburyport, Mass., was almost 40 years in the making.

    The idea of a rail-trail through the downtown area of this historical seaport on the mouth of the Merrimack River had been talked about since the railroad corridor there became inactive in the 1970s.

    But in the last decade, the city made the development of a rail-trail a priority in its strategic and recreational planning, and today the Clipper City Rail Trail, opened in May 2010, is a spectacular asset, popular among locals and tourists alike.

    So a few weekends ago, the people of Newburyport showed their appreciation for the trail by marking its first birthday with a community celebration, complete with a birthday cake designed by 8-year-old local resident Maddy Vining (pictured below with contest judges Bill Steelman and Mayor of Newburyport Donna Holaday). 

    A 1.1-mile multi-use pathway connecting a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) commuter rail station with the downtown shoreline of the Merrimack River, the rail-trail provides a vital connection to many local businesses, as well as forming an ideal pathway for visitors to explore the picturesque area on foot.

    Recognizing the importance of the trail to commerce and recreation along the riverfront, more than 2,000 people came out to enjoy the birthday party, which featured a kids cake decorating competition, free cake samples, a raffle for cakes made by local professional bakers, trailside food vendors, roving musicians, planting and mulching with the Green Artist League, kayak rides on the Merrimack River, and free bike helmets courtesy of the Newburyport Police Department.

    The Clipper City Rail Trail features an impressive display of public art installations, a riverside boardwalk made of tropical hardwood, and a number of stairway and spur trail connections to local bakeries, coffee shops and restaurants. Two public schools located nearby, the River Valley Charter School and the Molin School, regularly use the trail for students and teachers to walk to downtown, the harbor, parks and other destinations.

    Learn more about this wonderful recreational and commercial resource in downtown Newburyport! 

    Photos courtesy of Geordie Vining/City of Newburyport.

  • In Ohio, RTC Promotes Cycle Safety for Kids

    This May, Eric Oberg, manager of trail development for Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's (RTC) Midwest Regional Office, ran a bicycle safety station at Bremen Elementary School in Fairfield County, Ohio. Though much of his time is spent working with land managers and planners in council offices and boardrooms, poring over maps and technical documents, Oberg loves getting to work closely with rail-trail users. At Bremen Elementary, he was able to roll up his sleeves for bike maintenance courses, and to offer students advice on how to stay safe while zipping around on two wheels.

    "Bremen is only a small village, so often the children here ride on the street," says Oberg. "That being the case, it is especially important they know the correct hand signals and are conscious of rider safety."

    Joining Oberg at the school were local partners Lancaster Bicycle and the Fairfield Heritage Trail Association. The event also continued a great relationship between RTC and Bremen Elementary, where Oberg is a member of the school's Be Safe Committee, formed to promote health and safety in and around the school, including the development of safe routes to school and the recent establishment of a community garden.

    "At RTC, we are very much about creating safe places for children and families to walk and ride," say Oberg. "And this is a part of the job I really love. So much of what we do is behind the scenes, planning and building trails, working with cities and planners. This is about putting a face to RTC, working hands-on to promote our work and our goals."

    For Oberg, school safety has been a particular focus recently. A few weeks ago, he attended a workshop in Cleveland, Ohio, on "walking school buses." Hosted by RTC partner PedNet of Columbia, Mo., the workshop examined the positive impact walking to school can have on child health, and the importance of providing safe and enjoyable means to do so.

    For more information about the event, contact RTC's Midwest Regional Office at 614.837.6782. 

    Photos (top to bottom): Dan Peters, owner of Lancaster Bicycle, talking to a class, with Oberg in the background; and Peters fitting a helmet on a student, by Jennifer McMahon of Jennifer's Studio in Rushville, Ohio.

  • Mobile Muffins

    It happens to all of us at some point. We’re in a hurry trying to get our day started and forget to eat breakfast. If only someone would bring you a tasty treat--a delicious muffin, perhaps. Well, if you find yourself anywhere near Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, you might be in luck! Maid Marian Muffins, operated by baker, teacher and author Jessica Vander Salmis, offers just that. Salmis totes her fresh-out-of-the-oven baked goods in a custom-made muffin carrier attached to her trusty bicycle, a vintage English bike called “Robin Hood,” which inspired the name of her business.

    Salmis' bicycling muffin business has even motivated her to write a children’s book about her adventures. In an interview by Vanessa Marie Robinson of www.fortheloveofbikes.com , Salmis explains:

    Yes, people were very receptive. Children in particular. I think the whole concept of me on my bicycle selling muffins was very fairy tale-ish which is where the idea for the Maid Marian Muffins children's book came about. The book really reflects all the trials and tribulations I went through when getting my baking business rolling.

    Her book is available on the Maid Marian Muffins website, and you can follow her on Facebook to find out where she's pedaling and peddling her fresh-baked muffins.

    Photos by Vanessa Marie Robinson from www.fortheloveofbikes.com.

  • Commemorate Memorial Day on a Rail-Trail!

    Memorial Day marks a weekend of parades and other ceremonies to honor those who have died serving our country. It also signals the unofficial start of the summer season, when swimming pools open, barbecues fire up in backyards across the country, and families head off for weekend excursions. 

    This year, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) has created a list of six rail-trails that offer the perfect way to get you and your family outdoors and active while exploring some of America's memorable historical sites and battlegrounds.

    From the Capital Crescent Trail in the nation's capital to the Minuteman Bikeway in Boston, you can experience key moments in our country's history. These former railroad corridors are deeply rooted in American tradition, trials and triumphs, and they provide easily accessible-and inexpensive-getaways.

    For interactive maps, directions, photos and reviews of each of the trails on our list, as well as hundreds of other rail-trails across America, visit TrailLink.com, RTC's free, one-stop trail-finder website. With more than 19,000 miles of rail-trail throughout the country, families everywhere can enjoy a recreational Memorial Day weekend and explore historical sites along former rail lines that helped shape our country.

    1.  Western Maryland Rail-Trail - Maryland

    This 22-mile rail-trail guides you through several eras of American history. The eastern trailhead is located a half-mile from Fort Frederick State Park, which features the stone fort used as frontier defense for the colony of Maryland during the French and Indian War, and later in the Revolutionary War.
    Location: Washington County
    Length: 22 miles
    Surface: Asphalt

    2.  Richard Martin Trail (Limestone Rail-Trail) - Alabama

    This 10-mile rail-trail passes through Sulphur Creek, the site of Alabama's bloodiest Civil War conflict. During the 1864 Battle of Sulphur Creek Trestle, a Tennessee & Alabama Central Railroad supply train moving Union Army troops and goods from Nashville to Atlanta came under attack; more than 200 soldiers were killed. The trail is named for local trail advocate Richard Martin, who continues to push for the improvement and extension of this popular corridor.
    Location: Limestone County
    Length: 10.2 miles
    Surfaces: Crushed Stone, Gravel

    3.  Palmetto Trail/Swamp Fox Passage - South Carolina

    Famous for his guerilla tactics during the Revolutionary War, General Francis Marion earned the nickname "Swamp Fox" by confounding British troops in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. If you're retracing his steps, be wary of recent rainfall. The notoriously swampy conditions from Marion's heyday occasionally overtake parts of the trail as you head through coastal pine forests and wetlands.
    Berkeley and Charleston Counties
    Length: 42 miles
    Surfaces: Grass, Dirt

    4.  Capital Crescent Trail - Washington, D.C.

    This 11-mile rail-trail takes you from the peaceful woods of Silver Spring, Md., to the historical waterfront of Georgetown in Washington, D.C.-and only a short bridge ride over the Potomac River to Arlington National Cemetery, where you can take part in Memorial Day activities. It's a great route to reach the fireworks show in the nation's capital without the hassle of crowds or parking.
    Location: Silver Spring, Md., to Washington, D.C.
    Length: 11 miles
    Surface: Asphalt, Gravel, Crushed Stone

    5.  Minuteman Bikeway - Boston

    This 11-mile rail-trail offers a rolling history lesson. The corridor carries visitors through Lexington and near the Lexington Battle Green, where colonial militia-the minutemen-fired some of the first shots, and suffered some of the first casualties, of the American Revolution in 1775. The pathway begins just west of Boston near the Alewife metro station.
    Location: Boston, Mass.
    Length: 11 miles
    Surface: Asphalt

    6. Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail-Trail - Florida

    Running just outside of bustling downtown Jacksonville, this rail-trail crosses McGirts Creek near Camp Milton, a site steeped in Civil War history. Halfway along the trail's route is the Camp Milton Historic Preserve rest area, once home to the largest encampment of Confederate troops during the Civil War. Today, you may hear naval aircraft on training runs at nearby Whitehouse Field.
    Location: Duval County
    Length: 14.5 miles
    Surface: Asphalt

    Wherever you end up, have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend!

    Photos (top to bottom): Western Maryland Rail-Trail, Capital Crescent Trail and Minuteman Bikeway, by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. 

  • Compton Rolls out for First-Ever BikeFest

    Last Saturday, May 21, 120 Compton, Calif., residents rolled out for the first-ever Compton BikeFest. In celebration of Bike Month this May, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) joined forces with the city of Compton Parks and Recreation Department and Hub City Teens to teach local riders about bike safety and the best ways to get around on two wheels in Compton.

    Participants visited several stations featuring demonstrations on bike maintenance, how to ride safely on roads, footpaths and bike lanes, and even took slalom runs through a mini course set up in Gonzales Park just for the occasion. The majority of  participants did not come with bikes, so they borrowed a friend's or took turns on donated bikes to spin through the course.

    A few lucky locals who didn't have a set of wheels rode away with a brand-new bike of their own, thanks to RTC and our partners Kaiser Permanente and the LA County Sheriff's Department, with seven new bikes offered as raffle prizes at the end of the day.

    For those bikes that needed a touch-up here and there, Watts Cyclery mechanics and Cyclists Inciting Change Thru Live Exchange (CICLE) helped out with some running repairs, teaching kids how to take care of their own bikes with some simple maintenance tips.

    For more photos from Compton BikeFest, visit hubcityteens.com.

    Photo of BikeFest by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

  • New Report on Pedestrian Safety Released

    This morning, Transportation for America released its annual study of pedestrian fatalities in America's urban centers. According to Dangerous by Design, more than 47,000 pedestrians were killed in the United States in the last decade, the equivalent of a jumbo jet full of passengers crashing about once a month.

    More than 10 percent of all of these fatalities occurred in Florida, where Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville and Miami filled the top four spots as America's most dangerous cities for pedestrians.

    The study found that an overwhelming proportion of pedestrian fatalities occur on roads lacking safe sidewalks, crosswalks and signals. Also, Americans older than 65, children and minorities are killed or injured in disproportionate numbers.

    Other key findings from Dangerous by Design:

    • Pedestrians account for nearly 12 percent of total traffic deaths. Safe walking improvements constitute about 1.5 percent of available federal funding (Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is working to double federal investment in trails, walking and biking!);
    • The average pedestrian death rate for African-Americans was 48 percent higher than for non-Hispanic whites;
    • Nationwide, older Americans are nearly twice as likely to be killed as those under 65 years of age;
    • Between 2000 to 2009, 5,163 Floridians were killed in a traffic accident while walking.

    But there was some good news coming out of Florida. After a poor ranking in the 2009 Dangerous by Design report, Lee County in southwest Florida made immediate steps to adopt a complete streets program, committing to making regional roads safe for all users!

    For the full Dangerous by Design report, visit http://t4america.org/resources/dangerousbydesign2011.

    Image: Dangerous by Design report, by Transportation for America.

  • Tornado Levels Trestle on Virginia Creeper Trail

    In the violent storm system that tore through the Southeast a few weeks ago, one of the many tornadoes it spawned completely destroyed a trestle on the 34-mile Virginia Creeper National Recreation Trail.

    The rail-trail runs from Abingdon to Whitetop in the far southwest corner of Virginia. It passes through rolling foothills and farm country and provides a huge economic boost to communities along its route. Local outfitters offer shuttle service for visitors who want to pedal the trail in one direction (and with a slight downhill grade), and community businesses, including bed-and-breakfasts and restaurants, advertise the Virginia Creeper as a valuable recreation option. 

    Hitting at the end of April, the tornado scattered trestle # 7, located about six miles from the Abingdon trailhead, like a pile of matchsticks. John Mongle, who lives next to the trail, took a few photos of the damage in the days after the storm. Mongle says he spoke with Kevin Worley, director of parks and recreation for Abingdon, and Town Manager Greg Kelly about plans to rebuild the structure. The trestle is insured, and planners are meeting with property owners along the damaged section--between mile posts 6 and 7--to create an alternate route so they can re-open the segment as quickly as possible. The town of Abingdon oversees this section, and managers ask that trail users reaching this break respect private property owners and not trespass on adjacent land. 

    If you are planning a trip to the Virginia Creeper, contact the town of Abingdon parks and recreation department at 276.623.5279 for up-to-date information on repairs and when this trail section will be open to users again.

    Photos by John Mongle.

  • Climate Riders Arrive in D.C.

    On Tuesday afternoon, the rain and storms cleared in time to welcome the 2011 Climate Ride to its finish line on the U.S. Capitol lawn in Washington, D.C. 

    Well-wishers lined the street to cheer the group of more than 150 riders pedal up Constitution Avenue, the final stretch of a 300-mile journey from New York City to raise awareness and funding for organizations working for sustainable energy solutions--including cycling and other alternative transportation choices. Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) has been a partner and beneficiary of Climate Ride since the inaugural event in 2008, and this year 12 riders rode and raised money for Team RTC. We are extremely proud and grateful for their enormous contributions and efforts in completing this ride, and for supporting our work across the country!

    "It was pretty wild," said a tired but happy Steph Rio, one half of the Pedal Pushers duo riding with Team RTC. "When we started, this was more of a personal challenge for me. By the end, I had learned about some of the initiatives, the grassroots organizations and the work in Congress."

    "It's a great time to be able to come here and ride, to push our bodies physically and raise money for a great organization," said fellow Pedal Pusher Sara Lanious, who lives in Philadelphia. "It's exciting--it's surreal right now!"

    Leading Team RTC on the ride was Ken Bryan, Florida state director. It was his first Climate Ride, and on Tuesday RTC President Keith Laughlin joined him and the rest of the Climate Riders for the last 18-mile leg from Silver Spring, Md., to downtown D.C., in part along the Capital Crescent Trail. For Laughlin, who spoke at the final rally, Climate Ride was a great opportunity to stress the important message that trails, walking and cycling have huge potential to help solve a number of pressing social and environmental issues.

    "People in communities across America are tired of high gasoline prices, they're tired of not having any choice but to drive, they're concerned about the obesity epidemic, they're concerned about the impact of their travel on the environment," Laughlin told the riders and their friends and family, against the backdrop of the Capitol building. "All of these things are really leading to a cultural shift... to something new and exciting and different, and the bicycle and walking is at the center of it."

    Author Bill McKibben, founder of the nonprofit 350.org, joined several others speakers--including U.S. Senator Ben Cardin and Congresswoman Donna Edwards of Maryland--at the final rally at the Capitol. 

    "Bicycles are powerful," he said. "They're part of the solution the world over. The bicycle is one of the few things that both rich and poor people can use, that makes as much sense in the global south as it does in the global north."

    But, McKibben said, events like Climate Ride would only achieve so much toward a transportation policy that encourages riding and walking as environmental and public health solutions.

    "We are not going to change things one bike at a time," he said. "If we're going to deal with this climate crisis, and that is what it is, we're also going to have to work politically. Your lobbying is important. And for that lobbying to work, we need a bigger movement."

    Photo: RTC President Keith Laughlin, by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

  • Get the Conversation Started: RTC's Urban Pathways Initiative Summit

    Next week, more than 100 advocates of urban pathways, greenways and trails from cities across the nation--representing the nonprofit, private and public sectors--will meet in Cleveland for RTC's second Urban Pathways Initiative Summit. We'll be discussing the common issues we face in our efforts to encourage more physical activity on shared-use paths in urban areas, especially in low-income communities and communities of color.

    Registration has closed, but even if you aren't making it to Cleveland, be sure to sign up for e-mail updates from our Urban Pathways Initiative. After the summit is finished, you'll be able to watch video and listen in on some of the discussions.

    But don't wait until after the summit! If you're attending--or even if you're not--introduce yourself in the comments, and let's get this conversation started. What's the biggest challenge you face? The biggest success? What specific issues do you want to discuss with your colleagues during the summit?

    Photo: Area youth pedal to the Morgana Run Trail during the Slavic Village Bike-a-Thon. Photo courtesy of Slavic Village Development.

  • DC Prep Brightens up the Met Branch Trail

    The opening of the Met Branch Trail in Washington, D.C., last year provided a great resource for commuters and nearby communities. One year later, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) is working to help those who live, work and play near the trail make the most of this multi-faceted facility.

    On Friday, RTC staff members Kelly Pack, Stephen Miller and Lindsay Martin joined local artist Quest Skinner, fitness trainer Chikaro Martin and a group of D.C. Prep School 2nd and 3rd graders for a special work party on a section of the trail in Edgewood.

    Between their school building and the trail, the students already tend a vegetable and flower garden. Drawing inspiration from that garden on Friday, the students painted a mural with the bright and bold colors of tomatoes, grapes, apples and vines.

    Out on the adjacent trail, Martin gave the youngsters an energizing workout, with relay races and agility exercises, demonstrating how the trail is a great place for recreation and an asset for keeping our communities fit and healthy.

    The event was part of a growing partnership between RTC and DC Prep, whose staff and students use the trail regularly. Click on the photo at right for more pictures of all the fun!

    Photos by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

  • Bikes Beat Cars, Train in Commute Race

    Cycling to work has a lot of advantages. It's fun, great for your health and relatively cheap over the long-term. But if you think your mornings are too rushed to make time for such luxuries, think again.

    In an unusual race staged last week in downtown San Jose, Calif., several bicyclists raced against a car and public transit to get to from an apartment building to a downtown office about 10 blocks* away. And guess who won, in part by using the local Guadalupe River Trail? The cyclists! 

    Read more about this great Clean Commute Challenge.

    *This blog post was edited from its original version, which incorrectly listed the distance as 10 miles instead of 10 blocks. 

  • Art or Graffiti? Richmond Greenway Controversy Highlights Important Issue

    By Ruby Brunk

    The city of Richmond, Calif., recently found itself in the center of an ongoing debate around the definition and role of public art after the city painted over a commissioned mural along the Richmond Greenway this October. Painted on a private building with the property owner's permission, the mural took two weeks and $1,000 for students from nearby Gompers High School to create.

    Teacher Gretchen Borg says she asked the city for a permit but was told that she only needed the building owner’s permission, which she had acquired. While the resulting mural didn’t contain any obscene words or pictures, some community members saw it as offensive, in part because of the graffiti-like style of the words and pictures. Officials received some complaints, declared the mural graffiti and asked Borg and the property owner to remove it. Borg’s students attempted to mitigate the graffiti style by painting over their signatures, which resembled often-illegal “tagging,” but the Richmond Graffiti Abatement Team showed up shortly after and painted over the mural. 

    The students who painted the mural were also planting trees and building a garden along a nearby portion of the Richmond Greenway. Funded through a partnership between youth investment program Opportunity West, the city of Richmond Recreation Department and Friends of the Richmond Greenway, the greenway projects were designed to improve the rail-trail while drawing youth out to play and exercise on it. Programs that encourage youth creativity and stewardship through commissioned graffiti art exist across the county and often coincide with a decrease in the occurrence of unauthorized graffiti. Nearby Livermore’s utility box painting program is a great example of how publicly generated art can successfully deter unauthorized graffiti and vandalism. 

    After the mural was painted over, Gompers students attended a city council meeting where they voiced concern over the city's decision to remove the mural without their consent. City officials apologized and admitted multi-agency miscommunication. Richmond’s ambiguous graffiti laws were also cited as a factor, since “unauthorized public marking” is illegal, yet there’s no process for gaining authorization or permits. The city has since authorized re-painting of the mural and agreed to cover the cost of materials. Richmond has also passed a temporary moratorium preventing the removal of murals when created on private property with the owner's permission. This city is also developing a new law that may require potential murals to undergo city review and a public hearing before obtaining a permit.

    Getting everyone on the same page about permitted uses is essential in preventing mistakes like this miscommunication in Richmond. And a public review of potential murals could encourage community engagement in the public art process. However, art is also a matter of taste. Because communities are made up of varying identity groups and populations, no single piece will be appropriate, engaging and relevant to everyone. The students from Gompers High School created a mural that was significant to their experience. In the process they spent time on the Richmond Greenway and became trail stewards. Although the style of their art may not be appreciated by everyone, their dedication to the greenway and their community should be respected both by city officials and other residents.

    Photo: Richmond Greenway, by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

  • Rep. Mica Follows AAA's Lead, Proposes to Eliminate Funding for Active Transportation

    With gas prices over $4 per gallon, the chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives is proposing to eliminate the most cost-effective federal program to provide Americans alternatives to driving. According to a story in the Orlando Sentinel, Rep. John Mica (Fla.) wants to give state highway departments the authority to eliminate federal investment in trails, biking and walking so they can spend every dime of surface transportation funding on roads.

    This is the second salvo in a growing attack on active transportation. The first came last fall when AAA proposed to eliminate all federal support for active transportation from the federal transportation trust fund. In response, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy launched a national campaign that delivered more than 50,000 signatures to AAA national headquarters in Florida in December. And 33,000 of those signatures were AAA members!

    At a time of soaring gas prices and shrinking budgets, it’s simple common sense that we focus investment in transportation options that produce the biggest bang for the buck. For example, in December we held a press conference on a 14-mile trail--funded with federal transportation dollars--that ran right along the front yard of AAA headquarters in Florida. Parallel to the trail was a four-lane road. I asked our staff to compare the costs to build that trail and that road. What we found surprised even me. For the cost of that entire 14-mile trail, you could only build 250 yards of new four-lane road.

    So if federal funding is tight and gas prices are escalating, what would you rather have? A 14 mile trail that connects communities and provides a cost-effective corridor for commuting and recreation? Or 250 yards of new road that connects absolutely nothing and doesn’t help you avoid high gas prices?

    It’s time to get smarter about how we build our transportation infrastructure and move away from an outdated approach to transportation investment that can be best characterized as, "Drive, Baby, Drive!"

    With the continued support of our members and supporters, I assure you that Rails-to-Trails Conservancy will continue to lead the fight to protect funding that has permitted us to work with our local partners to build 20,000 miles of trail during the last 25 years. 

    Please stay tuned.

    PS – Click on the Orlando Sentinel story to vote "NO" on the poll on the left side of the page and leave a comment to show your support for trails, biking and walking.

  • 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.

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