Congratulations to our thousandth Erie Canalway Trail End-to-Ender

William and Nancy Moses of Midland Park, New Jersey made the most of their summer by bicycling from Niagara Falls to Albany along the Erie Canalway Trail and then through Hudson Valley all the way home! They used their 13-day, 560-mile trip at the end of June to train for their fourth Pennsylvania Perimeter Ride Against Cancer in July in honor of their son Jason, a cancer survivor.

William, who is retired and bicycles every day, came across the Canalway Trail when looking online for bicycle trails.

A $25 LL Bean Gift Card and congratulatory letter are on their way to William and Nancy

William and Nancy set out on their Trek hybrid bikes, complete with gear in their rear panniers, stopping in small towns along the trail, eating at local restaurants, and staying in area hotels. What the pair most enjoyed about their trip was the people they met. For achieving the milestone of becoming our thousandth registered End-to-Ender, the Moses family will receive an LL Bean gift card. Congratulations Bill and Nancy!

Have you traveled the length of the Erie Canalway Trail? If so, register as an End-to-Ender today!

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Preview the Proposed Kingston Point Rail Trail

Tour and discussion, 3pm this Saturday

As part of this year’s Hudson River Valley Ramble, the Kingston Land Trust and members of its Rail Trail Committee are hosting a walking tour of the proposed Kingston Point Rail Trail on Saturday, 9/14. This trail, which connects midtown to the Rondout via a section of the former Ulster & Delaware Railroad, is part of the Kingston Land Trust’s vision for the Kingston Greenline – a multi-use trail network linking Kingston’s residents and visitors to the City’s rich cultural, historical, recreational and commercial offerings.

The tour begins promptly at 3pm from the parking lot of the Rondout Savings Bank, 300 Broadway in Kingston. Participants should wear sturdy boots, since the trail is still undeveloped and the walk will cross over wet and weedy sections. Advanced registration is encouraged, but not required.

Parks & Trails New York is working with the Kingston Land Trust and the Rail Trail Committee as part of its Healthy Trails, Healthy People program to engage the community in exploring the feasibility of connecting existing and proposed rail trails into the city.

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Comments sought on Adirondack rail line Unit Management Plan

New York State has undertaken a review of its management plan for the State-owned 119-mile Remsen-Lake Placid travel corridor that traverses some of the most magnificent scenery in the Adirondack Park.  The state departments of Transportation (DOT) and Environmental Conservation (DEC) are now seeking public input on which to base their decision.  

This provides and opportunity for the public to examine and shape the future use of this corridor. Several communities along the line are supporting an effort to convert a significant portion of the line into a multi-use trail.  The charge’s leading organization Adirondack Recreation Trail Advocates, have crafted a detailed plan for an Adirondack Rail Trail, illustrated on this map. The organization’s goal is to re-purpose much of the travel corridor as a 90-mile, multi-use trail connecting Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Piercefield, Beaver River, Big Moose and Old Forge.

The Adirondack Rail Trail will be a major tourist destination–a safe, easy, scenic, year-round amenity for people of all ages and physical abilities. The trail will be a delight for biking, jogging, walking, birding, wheelchair use, etc., and for greatly improved snowmobiling in the winter. Based on the popularity of other rail-to-trail conversions, the Adirondack Rail Trail will provide significant economic, recreational and health benefits.

The opportunity to express support for the recreational trail is available today. One can do so by submitting a written comment attending one of the state-sponsored September meetings (or by doing both).

The public meetings, all this month, are as follows:

  • Old Forge:  Monday, Sept. 9, 6-9 p.m., Town of Webb Office Bldg., 183 Park Ave.
  • Ray Brook: Tuesday, Sept. 10, 1-4 p.m., DEC Region 5 headquarters
  • Utica: Monday, Sept. 16, 1-4 p.m., State Office Bldg., 207 Genesee St.
  • Tupper Lake: Tuesday, Sept. 17, 6-9 p.m., Wild Center

Written comments should be submitted by Sept. 25 to:

NYSTravelCorridor@dot.ny.gov, faxed to 518-457-3183, or mailed to Raymond F. Hessinger, Freight & Passenger Rail Bureau, NYSDOT, 50 Wolf Rd., POD 54, Albany, NY 12232.

By adding your voice to the support for The Adirondack Recreational Trail, you will help ensure that this publicly-owned resource will bring significant economic, health, and  quality of life benefits to the Adirondack communities that the line connects.

Posted in Department of Environmental Conservation, Health, NYSDOT, Rail Trail, Trails, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tell USDOT trails are transportation

The U.S. Department of Transportation has been working on their strategic plan for FY 2014 to FY 2018 since early this spring.  Developing and implementing our strategic plan is an important step in helping the Department address key priorities that represent the diverse interests of stakeholders across the country.

Transportation is an engine for growing our economy and creating American jobs. Every day, people and businesses rely on a multi-modal transportation system to travel and to move goods to consumers at home and abroad.

For the next few weeks, you can review the plan and submit your ideas and comments at the DOT Strategic Plan Online Dialogue.  The dialogue also provides an opportunity to read and respond to what others are saying about the plan. Your participation will help USDOT shape the future of transportation in America.

This is an important opportunity to remind USDOT that multiple-use trails play a significant role and contribute to the nation’s transportation system.

You can read more about USDOT’s  Strategic Plan Online Dialogue in their Fast Lane blog.

Keep an eye out for a blog post on Parks & Trails New York’s comments  on the plan. You can read more about our bike and pedestrian advocacy agenda by visiting us at http://www.ptny.org/advocacy/agenda.shtml.

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Senator Gillibrand renews call for Amtrak to include bicycle racks on new baggage cars

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand renewed her call for Amtrak to include bicycle racks in its plans to modernize the rolling stock used in train services between New York City and Buffalo. The inclusion of bicycle racks would provide ease of access for those wishing to bike to tourist destinations throughout New York State, providing more streamlined travel for active tourism along New York’s Erie Canalway Trail and creating the opportunity to generate revenue from these tourists. Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, first urged Amtrak to make this change in May 2012. In her letter to Amtrak President and CEO Joseph H. Boardman today, Senator Gillibrand urged that train service include bicycle racks for customers throughout New York State.

“New York State is blessed with vast natural beauty. This is just a commonsense step to remove barriers so more New Yorkers can get out and enjoy it,” Senator Gillibrand said. “When we allow more cyclists to take advantage of the hundreds of miles of Amtrak rail lines right long so much of the Erie Canalway Trail, we can unlock access to recreation, and jumpstart a new economic engine by boosting tourism revenue.”

Currently, bicycles are prohibited on Amtrak trains unless they are dissembled and boxed. This is both inefficient and inconvenient for those that desire to travel long distances on their bicycles while using the convenience of trains to make their long distance travel more desirable. The addition of bicycle racks on Amtrak trains would allow cyclists to easily ride along the Erie Canalway Trail without the hassle of boxing their bicycles or worrying about how they will get back.

The Erie Canalway Trail extends 365 miles between Buffalo and Albany along much of the Erie Canal. As one of the longest multi-use trails in the nation and because of its association with the legendary Erie Canal the trail attracts riders from throughout the nation and the world. At present, the Canalway Trail is visited by more than 1.6 million visitors each year. Currently, it is estimated that touring cyclist have the potential to generate $100-300 per person per day, which would boost tourism revenues in the local economies along the canal.

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What makes a successful community?

There are over 25,000 incorporated communities in America. How many of these are truly successful? How is it that some small towns and rust belt cities are prospering, while many others are suffering disinvestment, loss of identity, and even abandonment? Why are some communities able to maintain their historic character and quality of life in the face of a rapidly changing world, while others have lost the very features that once gave them distinction and appeal?  How can communities, both big and small, grow without losing their heart and soul?

The Citizen’s Institute on Rural Design will be hosting a conference call featuring nationally-renowned Ed McMahon of the Urban Land Institute. Ed will share the secrets of successful communities that he has gleaned over the course of decades working in towns across the country.

The call will take place on Thursday, August 22, 2013, 3-4 PM. Join by clicking here. Do you have a group of interested folks? Would you like $500 towards your project? Consider a listening party.

Read about the seven secrets of successful communities.

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LIPA moving forward, permitting trails along transmission line right-of-ways

A long-proposed bike and jogging path running along the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) transmission lines in Suffolk County is finally moving forward.

On July 30, County Executive Bellone signed a 25-year agreement reached between the county legislature and LIPA on July 30 that will allow the county right-of-way to utilize the underused land to create a bike and pedestrian trail.

The first phase of the project will focus on a roughly 2.5 mile stretch from Randall Road in Shoreham through the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe’s property to Wading River Manor Road in Wading River.

“It’s not only demonstrating that we can get things done that have some complexity or difficulty to it, but because we need to take advantage of the amazing assets that we have here in a way that leverages a great quality of life and sustains a great economic downtown,” Bellone said of the project. 

Read more in in the Port Jefferson Patch

Posted in Climate Change, Cycling Advocacy, Health, Trails, Utility Corridors | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Does NYSDOT’s “preservation first” conflict with Complete Streets?

Cross posted from our friends at the Tri-State Transportation Campaign

The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) recently issued a draft plan of transportation projects it will be tackling from 2014-2017. This draft Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) will encompass more than $32 billion in federal, state and local funds, and is the best “blueprint” for what the State’s transportation priorities will be in the near future. Unfortunately for pedestrians and bicyclists, who jointly represent 27 percent of the total fatalities on New York’s roads, it doesn’t look like they are high on NYSDOT’s priority list.

The core of the problem may lie with NYSDOT’s new “Preservation First” policy.

In the fall of 2012, NYSDOT issued a STIP guide document to the 14 Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) across the state to help guide their decisions on what projects will get built, and what projects will not. The document outlined what the agency called a “fundamental shift” in the philosophy and principles behind how New York State “develops, programs and funds transportation infrastructure.” Called the “primary focus” of four guiding principles, this new “Preservation First” policy emphasizes fixing existing transportation infrastructure before building new or expanded infrastructure. While Tri-State supports fix-it-first policies like Preservation First as the most efficient use of limited resources, a loophole in the policy appears to be preserving not just 1950s-era infrastructure, but also a 1950s-era mentality. In other words, cars first, with pedestrians and bicyclists fighting for scraps.

It is widely recognized that one of the easiest and most efficient ways to incorporate more facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists is to add sidewalks and bike lanes to roads when they’re being repaired. But despite the fact that sustainability is one of the “forward four guiding principles” (and even mentions a “complete” transportation system), the policy considers only repairs to existing sidewalks “preservation projects,” but the addition of new sidewalks will be considered capital investments that go “beyond preservation.” According to the STIP guide document, “beyond preservation” projects must pass an additional review by NYSDOT’s central office in Albany.

Additionally, $39.7 million in Marchiselli funding—which is the primary state aid matching fund for local projects and an essential funding source for communities trying to build new sidewalks— will also be subject to the Preservation First policy. Applications for Marchiselli funding will now be reviewed on a “case by case” basis. If their projects don’t make the cut, municipalities will be responsible for a 20 percent match to their federal dollars, instead of a five percent match—a cost increase that would kill most local sidewalk projects.

Extra hurdles often mean projects are less likely to make it to the finish line. Planners throughout the various MPOs, who are already struggling to get more of these projects going with less federal support, worry that a Preservation First approach will short-change pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure.  And it’s not the only state policy short-changing vulnerable road users. The vast majority of projects funded through Governor Cuomo’s NY Works program, which is focused on repaving roads and re-building bridges, also do not include new facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists.

The intent of New York State’s Complete Streets law was to make consideration of pedestrian and bicycling facilities a routine part of rebuilding our crumbling transportation system. The intent of NYSDOT’s “Preservation First” policy is to rebuild what we have, the way we have it now. The two policies simply do not match, and Governor Cuomo should retroactively make sure that they do.

Posted in Cycling Advocacy, Fiscal impact, Grants, Health, NYSDOT, Trails | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

What does your commute look like?

Are you one of the countless folks across New York that commutes from the suburbs in the rat race that is rush hour? Are you tired of the white knuckle merging and frustrated by rubberneckers? You may not want to any any further.

The High Line, considered by many to be NYC’s sexiest new public place, is quickly becoming a sort of pedestrian super highway, catering to the needs of as many commuters as well as park-dwelling flâneurs. New Yorkers are finding that a trip along the elevated rail line turned urban oasis can save precious minutes off their commute – and many folks are cutting time the time otherwise waiting for lights and traffic by climbing up to the elevated High Line instead of walking on the streets below.

In a very peculiar way, the High Line’s use as a travel corridor mirrors Robert Moses’ vision of a network of elevated highways whisking New Yorkers around the region, bypassing the bustle and delays of the cities snarled traffic.

New York City has made great strides in developing a 21st century superhighway of sorts with the bike paths and separated bike lanes throughout the 5 boroughs that make up the City that Never Sleeps. Perhaps someday the rest of New York can follow suit, by developing a state-wide, interconnected multi-use trail superhighway.

Your commute could become significantly less frustrating.

Read more about the High Line commuters in this New York Times article.

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Federal funding for trails, bicycling and walking threatened again

Earlier this week we told you about the Transportation Alternatives workshops happening across New York – workshops to help communities prepare funding applications for bike and pedestrian projects.

Well, we have some scary news coming out of Washington, and the timing could not be worse.

Yesterday, Senator Rand Paul (KY) introduced an amendment to the transportation appropriations bill that would strip all funding from the Transportation Alternatives Program!

Yes, that’s right, eliminate all funding for the Recreational Trails Program and community trails and bicycling and walking infrastructure that supports Safe Routes to Schools and active transportation.

Here we go again. Bike and pedestrian funding is under attack again despite the facts that projects funded by this program address our nation’s obesity epidemic, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and support main street economic development.  Sometimes folks just don’t get it. That’s why it’s up to YOU to contact congressional representatives and tell them Tell them to vote NO on Amendment 1742!

There isn’t much time, a vote could happen TODAY!

Thank you for your support of trails, biking and walking.

Posted in Fiscal impact, Grants, Health, Rail Trail, Trails, Transit | Tagged | Leave a comment