June 2011

In This Issue...

National News

  • Greetings from the Director
  • Fare Thee Well, Mike
  • A special opportunity
  • W3R! (What's that, you say? Find out below!)

Regional News: New England

  • 2011 New England Bike-Walk Summit
  • ECG Meeting in Boston
  • Trail Bridges in CT

Regional News: Mid Atlantic

  • Active Transportation Summit (Philadelphia)
  • Circle Manhattan Ride
  • Mike's Goodbye

Regional News: South Atlantic

  • Great event in Richmond!
  • New ECGA Office

Regional News: Southeast

  • Jekyll Island access?
  • Miami-Dade Trail: mind the gap!
  • New Trail in Georgia!

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ECG News Online is a publication of the East Coast Greenway Alliance.

Dennis Markatos-Soriano: Executive Director

Herb Hiller: Southeast Region Consultant

Mike Oliva: Mid-Atlantic Regional Trail Coordinator

Eric Weis: Trail Program Coordinator

Debbie West: Office Manager / Marketing

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National ECGA News

Greetings from ECGA Executive Director, Dennis Markatos-Soriano

Accessible to All Ages

Dear East Coast Greenway teammates,

Our organization takes accessibility seriously. Not only do we go through the heart of eastern communities in counties holding over 40 million people, but we work to make each of our 2,900 miles as safe as possible for walkers and bicyclists of all abilities and ages.

I believe the key obstacle today to a healthy, sustainable US is the lack of safe, accessible routes for bicycling and walking. These active transport trips make up ~12% of all US trips, compared to 20-40% in most of Europe. Continuing to improve the East Coast Greenway will help us grow biking and walking significantly in the years ahead, further moving it from the margins to the mainstream.

I'm happy to regularly see people of all ages enjoying our route. My six-month old son is amazed at the plants along the greenway visible from his stroller and my arms. And a couple weeks ago, two inspirational octogenarians biked 540 miles of the ECG from their home state of New Hampshire to their 60th college reunion at Princeton University. In this pilot project to green reunions, we helped Princeton alumni bike from Philadelphia, New York City, and elsewhere to their alma mater. (It's an initiative we hope will take root at Princeton and many other campuses in 2012.) It was such an inspiring ride that the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a feature article on the trip and ECG progress the following Sunday (article here).

The Careys, who pedaled from New Hampshire to Princeton, NJ. Photo: Dennis Markatos-Soriano

We have a way to go to make every mile of our route accessible to all. But it sure is nice to see people of all ages enjoying the fruit of our organization's first 19 years of labor!

Together, We Can Build a Sustainable & Healthy America,

Photo by Steve Rosenbaum

Farewell, Mike!

This July we bid farewell to an outstanding staff member. Michael Oliva joined the ECGA as our Mid-Atlantic Regional Trail Coordinator in the spring of 2007, and hit the ground running. His high level of enthusiasm, his sheer output, and his ability to juggle multiple priorities have been inspirational to all of his co-workers. Among the legacies of his work are strong relationships with our partner agencies and organizations from NY to DC, better routing, and a greater recognition of the East Coast Greenway in the mid-Atlantic states. Replacing Mike will be a challenge, as he set such a high bar. We wish him well as he moves forward with his next endeavors: promoting running, and pursuit of his teaching certificate. Mike's "goodbye letter" can be found below, in the Mid-Atlantic Region section.

Good luck, Mike!

Great Opportunity - Your Help Requested

Ordinarily this would go in the Mid-Atlantic section of the newsletter, but this is important enough that we decided to put it "above the fold."

The projected future route for the East Coast Greenway through Hudson County, NJ, the most densely populated county in the most densely populated state in the country, uses the Harsimus Branch Embankment, a monumental stone rail embankment built by the Pennsylvania Railroad circa 1902. It runs for a half-mile through downtown Jersey City toward the Hudson River, borders on two National Historic Districts, and is a landmark in its own right.

Now the National Trust for Historic Preservation has selected the Embankment Preservation Coalition as one of 100 participants in its "This Place Matters" Community Challenge. Cash prizes up to $25,000 will go to the three places across the country that receive the most support. The Coalition (one of ECGA's most impressive partners) has been working tirelessly since 2004 to make the Greenway off-road in Hudson County and bring it through the most historic areas. Please take a few moments to cast your vote for the Embankment Preservation Coalition! Click on www.embankment.org to see voting instructions. Thank you very much!

W3R: Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route

On July 1st, 2011 one Kansas City man, Bill Poindexter, will retrace the footsteps of American and French revolutionary soldiers by being the first person to thru-bike the National Historic Trail, the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route (W3R) on its 230th anniversary.

History of the W3R: In 1781, French General Rochambeau marched his army from Newport, Rhode Island, through Connecticut, and into New York. In NY he met up with George Washington and the Continental Army. Then, together, they marched across NY, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and into Virginia, specifically to Yorktown. This is where the American and French forces defeated the British Army and General Lord Cornwallis in the Battle of Yorktown. This battle, one of the most important in the American Revolution, is considered the turning point of the war. In 2009 the W3R was designated a National Historic Trail by Congress.

Poindexter is embarking a historical solo cycling expedition which will be self-supported; he carries everything he needs on the bicycle. His primary expedition mission: to map out and promote the safest through-bike route on the entire W3R-NHT for current and future users of the trail, to promote the historical significance of the National Historic Trail, and promote cycling as an alternative way to travel for transportation. To that end, strategic partnerships have been formed with the East Coast Greenway Alliance, National Park Service, and the Adventure Cycling Association, among others. He will be following the East Coast Greenway for portions of the trip, so it is likely that the ECG and the W3R's bike route will be co-located in portions of several states.

The expedition will begin in Newport, Rhode Island on July 1st. The W3R spans over 680 miles through 9 states; RI, CT, NY, NJ, PA, DE, MD, DC, and VA. The expedition can be followed on the blog and Facebook page.

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Regional News: New England

New England Bike-Walk Summit

The ECGA is proud to present the New England Bike-Walk Summit, to be held again in Providence, RI, on Friday, October 7. Planners, designers, engineers, advocates, and other bike and walk stakeholders from throughout the region will convene in downtown Providence. The summit will include breakout sessions, a field visit and training, a poster session, and networking opportunities. Click here to download the call for presentations. If your company, agency, or organization seeks the great exposure found in sponsoring this event, you can learn more about that by downloading the sponsor benefits sheet.

Like last year, we are partnering with the Providence Cyclocross Festival, held that weekend in Providence. Nonprofit organizations sponsoring the Summit can have complimentary exhibit space at the Festival - fantastic access to thousands of cyclists!

We thank our current sponsors: The Charlotte Foundation, Cross-Alert Systems, Weston & Sampson, Prime Engineering, Inc., and the Alliance for Biking & Walking. The best way to keep apprised of developments? "Like" this Facebook page.

Boston Meeting

You are invited to attend a Massachusetts statewide East Coast Greenway meeting, which will be held in Boston City Hall (rm 937) on Monday, June 27, from 3 to 5 pm.

At this meeting, we will share updates on trail development. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the Blackstone River Bikeway, Mass Central Rail Trail, Border-to-Boston Trail, and other projects that form the ECG in Massachusetts.

We will also propose a realignment of the Boston-to-Providence "alternate" route. This long-dormant route, proposed 15 years (or more) ago, aimed to connect Boston and Providence roughly along the I-95/US1/Amtrak corridor. We will discuss realigning this route to pass from Providence to Fall River, New Bedford, and the length of Cape Cod, then to Boston via ferry. (This will have no impact on the ECG spine route, connecting Boston to RI via Worcester.)

Please let Eric Weis know via email if you plan to attend. Thank you!

CT trail bridges

Two new bridges have been installed for the latest section of the Charter Oak Greenway, in Manchester, CT. Spanning Birch Mountain Brook in two locations, these bridges help bring the trail just a little bit closer to the next trail to the east, the Hop River Trail. This newest "gap-closing" trail section, a bit less than a mile in length, should be open this summer.

New bridge for the Charter Oak Greenway. Photo: Rob Dexter

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Regional News: Mid Atlantic

Active Transportation Summit

The Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) and Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) invite you to attend the Active Transportation Summit: Building Our Regional Trail Network on June 23rd at the Cira Centre, 2929 Arch St, Philadelphia. A vision for a complete and interconnected system of trails and urban greenways across the Delaware Valley will be unveiled and participants will learn how a trail network directly benefits families, individuals, and small businesses in the region. Learn more and register here.

Circle Manhattan Ride

Forty intrepid riders circumnavigated the island of Manhattan by bike on May 14! We took this opportunity to size up the quality of different sections of greenway and the 10% of the route that remains on-road. Download the full report, including photos and a map, right here.

Mike's Goodbye

I just wanted to let everyone know that I will be leaving my position at the East Coast Greenway on July 8th. It has been an amazing experience working and getting to know all of you over the past four years. Together we have made dramatic improvements to the ECG route and vision in the Mid-Atlantic Region. I will still remain an active ECG volunteer and member. It has been great working with you all and I want to thank you again for all your effort in making the ECG a reality. I look forward to seeing continued progress on the ECG in the future.

Mike and his cake at his going away party. Cake by Christine Santos.

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Regional News: South Atlantic

Fun & Educational Evening in Richmond

It is our pleasure to invite you to a special event in Richmond on June 21.

Our friends, the Virginia Bicycling Federation, are hosting renowned bicycle planner, advocate, and author, Mia Birk, from 7-9 pm at the Science Museum of Virginia. Ms. Birk will speak about how Portland, Oregon became a bicycling mecca, and about what we can all do to make our own communities more bike-friendly.

The ECGA is pleased to co-sponsor this informational and inspirational evening. To open the event, Eric Weis, ECGA's Trail Coordinator, will talk about the vision for the ECG in Virginia and beyond.

Learn more here, and register here. Admission is free, but seating is limited.


New ECGA Office

We love our new headquarters in Durham, North Carolina! Our office opened May 2nd, and we couldn't be happier with it. We are less than a block from the American Tobacco Trail section of the East Coast Greenway, and after some greenway construction during the next 18 months, we'll be able to see the trail from our office! By the end of 2012, our office will be along one of the longest stretches of greenway in our whole system.

The office has a lobby area for our literature and t-shirts, Dennis' and Debbie's offices, an office for a future South Atlantic staffperson, space for all the ECGA files (there are a lot), and several resident bikes (a beautiful vintage tandem and our folding bike). Our landlord, Ticon Properties, even put in some bike parking to accommodateus. We enjoyed hosting one of the rest stops for the Durham Greenways bike ride in early May, and having everyone on the ride see our new space!

If you're nearby on the trail, or in the area, stop by and see us! 

Our parking lot

Guests visiting our office during the Durham Greenways Ride. Photo by Jerry Markatos


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Regional News: Southeast

Design work begins on Jekyll Island access trail
by Herb Hiller

Cyclists along the route of the Coastal Georgia Greenway southeast through the state will have a direct connection to Jekyll Island State Park thanks to design work newly underway. The work covers approximately five miles of trail south of Brunswick from U.S. Highway 17 below the Sidney Lanier Bridge to a welcome center for the famous resort island. Additional plans of the Jekyll Island Authority call for extending the trail two miles onto the island itself, where the new facility will connect with the island's own 20-mile system of paved trails.

The design grant of $250,000 comes from a national DOT Transportation Enhancement grant. Jekyll Island Authority Executive Director Jones Hooks announced the grant and called the new section of multi-use trail "an important enhancement for our tourism industry."

The Coastal Georgia Greenway is a planned 450-mile multi-use trail congruent with the route of the East Coast Greenway through the Peachtree State.

Difficult gap to close in Miami-Dade trail
by Herb Hiller

Within the next nine months, a short new section of trail will advance the Greenway in south Florida.

Cyclists for years have sought to close the 1.25-mile gap in a major trail through populous Miami-Dade County. This critical link of the M-Path that runs through the southern half of Miami-Dade is scheduled for completion during the area's favored winter cycling months. For the first time, cyclists and walkers will have access from the south shore of the Miami River to the Dadeland shopping mall, the east Kendall commercial district, and all the way to Florida City, the gateway to the Florida Keys.

The M-Path runs 30 miles, 10 beneath the Metrorail commuter train alignment before seamless connection the next 20 with the Miami-Dade Busway – also known as the South Dade Trail -- below Dadeland South Station. The path starts south at 15th Road behind the City of Miami's Simpson Park and continues past Vizcaya Metrorail Station through the University of Miami Station, and, until now, only as far as the Metrorail North Station at 67th Avenue.

MPO Bicycle-Pedestrian Coordinator David Henderson reports anecdotally that "the trail already gets good local use around Metrorail stations," although user numbers aren't currently measured. "Closing the gap will be very popular." The new section will locate the M-Path on a bridge above the on-off ramp of the Snapper Creek Expressway.

Further benefits for cyclists will include adding bike racks and lockers at some stations. Other stations will also get easy-to-use self-service BikeLids™ .

For long distance travelers, the M-Path can be accessed at 15th Road from the Brickell Stations of both Metrorail and Metromover. Metrorail is the 22.4-mile commuter rail system; Metromover is the monorail facility that scoots mini-rubber-wheeled trains through downtown to the south shore. Rules for bikes-on-train are at www.miamidade.gov/transit, click on the Rider Information menu. Rail-integrated Metrobus units front load bikes.

White Oak Trail, Camden County, GA

New trail construction in Georgia's southernmost coastal county means good news for ECG users! The White Oak Trail is 3.5 miles long, surfaced with firm crushed stone, is part of the Georgia Coast Rail-Trail, and will be a candidate for ECG designation later this year. Many thanks to the people and government of Camden County!

Beautiful rural rail-trail in southern GA. Photo: Terry Landreth

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ECG News Online is a publication of the East Coast Greenway Alliance, a national not-for-profit membership organization dedicated to promoting the establishment, preservation, sound management, and safe use and enjoyment of the East Coast Greenway, a 3000-mile, continuous route linking seaboard cities and towns from Maine to Florida. It aims to be 100% separated from automobile traffic.

~ Support the Greenway by becoming a member of the ECGA or sponsoring a mile of trail today.

~ Get Involved! Volunteer, write a letter, help spread the word...learn about all the ways you can help create the ECG.

~ Comments? Suggestions? News? Contact the ECGA at info@greenway.org.

~ Learn more about the East Coast Greenway by visiting our website, or call us at (919) 797-0619.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Copyright 2011 East Coast Greenway Alliance