September 2010

In This Issue...

National News

  • Greetings from Executive Director Dennis Markatos-Soriano
  • Fall Trail Council and Board meetings
  • Florida: about to take the national lead on trail tourism

Regional News: New England

  • New England Bike-Walk Summit update
  • Providence Hill Climb
  • Covered Trail Bridge on the ECG
  • Providence Cyclocross Festival... and secret special bike tour (shh!)

Regional News: Mid Atlantic

  • TIGER II grant application
  • Bike Walk Alliance of Westchester & Putnam fundraiser
  • ECG Ride, NJ-NY
  • Oct. 16: tour Trenton to Philly

Regional News: South Atlantic

  • North Carolina: tour and ECGA meetings
  • You can help improve US Bike Route One in Virginia!

Regional News: Southeast

  • New Florida milestones for Alliance-inspired trail moves

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

Dennis Markatos-Soriano: Executive Director

Kitty Carter: Office Manager/Membership Coordinator/Bookkeeper

Herb Hiller: Southeast Region Consultant

Mike Oliva: Mid-Atlantic Regional Trail Coordinator

Eric Weis: Trail Program Coordinator

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National ECGA News

Greetings from ECGA Executive Director, Dennis Markatos-Soriano

It's About Community

Dear Friends of the East Coast Greenway,

In this time of Facebook and Twitter, of email and texting - physical face-to-face community can be forgotten. We can slip into taking pictures of an event to upload instead of fully experiencing the places and gatherings we are a part of. We can sit and watch the world change in our TV and our computers as a spectator. When we travel, our eyes and ears may remain fixated on shows and songs stored in our iPod rather than learning about the communities and landscapes we pass through.

But the East Coast Greenway helps us connect both with our old neighborhood and new destinations, free of the separating windshield and the all-engrossing screen. Bicycling and walking are interactive physical experiences that allow us to hear the whisper of the wind in the forest, to see the animals and smell the plants that hold our ecosystems together, and to share stories and laughs with our friends and neighbors along the way.

In some ways, current communities of the East Coast are disjointed and lonely. Towns of the South have little connection to cities of New England. We often interact via division - when an opposing baseball or football team comes to visit that we can boo. And we may carry mistrust based on generations of difference as far back as the Civil War. In these times marked by polarized politics and competitive economics, people need unifying efforts like the East Coast Greenway that foster collaboration and common purpose. As we complete the East Coast Greenway, our region will share the pride of completing this national and even international treasure.

Together, we can make this route safe and accessible for all within a few short years - and through this feat, we can create lasting bonds across cultures, political preferences, and class. We aren't just building a trail, we are building community.

I look forward to building, biking and hiking with you in the months and years ahead!

Dennis Markatos-Soriano

Photo by Steve Rosenbaum & Jerry Markatos

ECGA semi-annual meetings: Durham, NC, Oct. 23-24

We'd love to see you in Durham this fall! let us know if we'll see you at our Trail Council meeting (location), which begins at 10 am on Saturday, October 23; we'll save a seat for you. Further down in this newsletter you can read about events that precede the meetings in NC.

Florida DEP & Tourism love trails!

Visit Florida is teaming with Florida's Office of Greenways and Trails to implement a brainchild of ECGA's Herb Hiller: an interactive website for trails tourism.

This site will allow anyone to search out a part of the state, a particular trail, a type of trail (bicycling, walking, paddling, etc), and get all manner of information. The East Coast Greenway will be properly represented, of course. The site will launch in October, but we offer you this sneak peek to see how it will be laid out. Florida, a national leader in promoting (and reaping benefits of) tourism, is about to jump to the forefront of trails tourism. We expect (and hope) that other states will follow its lead.

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Regional News: New England

New England Bike-Walk Summit update

The New England Summit, presented by the ECGA, is set to be a key event in New England bike-walk advocacy. Participation is confirmed with Bikes Belong Coalition, Alliance for Biking & Walking, League of American Bicyclists, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, 5 of the 6 state DOTs (as well as a plethora of other state agencies from across the region), many regional planning entities and municipal agencies, and all of the state and local advocacy organizations that do the heavy lifting at the state and local level. We will offer an interesting field visit, and the walking tour of Providence's famed Waterplace Park will be first-rate: led by one of the architects that designed it! Learn more at the website (includes link for registration) and facebook group.

Inaugural Providence Hill Climb!

The U.S. Open Cycling Foundation, one of ECGA's key partners in RI, is hosting the first-ever Providence Hill Climb Challenge! Join the fun on Sunday, October 3 and help raise funds to support two worthy organizations. Providence's Capitol Hill, via Smith St, is only 1000 feet long and 63 feet up, so this event can be a quad-buster if you want it to be, but it can also be more about having fun and supporting safe cycling organizations. In addition, there will be free cycling classes for kids! Learn more here, and register here. Mention on the registration form that you heard about the event from ECGA, and a portion of the registration fee will come to ECGA.

Providence Cyclocross Festival presented by Interbike

Providence Cross-Fest returns to Providence, RI from October 8 to 10 for another long weekend of great bike racing and sneak peeks at next year's bikes and bike components! And once again, the organizers have generously made the ECGA a beneficiary of fundraising components of the event. Friday is the industry-only trade show, while Saturday and Sunday feature exciting world-class bike racing and the exhibits are all open to the general public. Learn all about it right here!

[NOTE: a special sorta-under-the-radar cyclocross/mountain bike tour of greater Providence, conducted as a fundraiser for ECGA, will be held on Monday October 11. Roads, trails, abandoned bridges, gravel, dirt and mud; the Ronde de Rhody is a one-of-a-kind, 32-mile no-drop guided ride, partly on the ECG. Not for the easily daunted. Contact Eric to get on the list to learn more.]

Covered Trail Bridge coming to the ECG

If you've been following the soap opera surrounding the installation of the covered bridge over Rt 315 for the Hop River Trail in Andover, Connecticut, you might have rolled your eyes at this headline. This bridge has been in the works for 5 years or so, derailed (de-rail-trailed?) time after time. But we finally have proof that the bridge is on its way: here it is, in pieces, being fabricated in upstate NY. Assuming no more hiccups, this will be the FIRST covered trail bridge on the East Coast Greenway!

Our spies infiltrated the factory...

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Regional News: Mid-Atlantic

TIGER II grant application - your help needed!

On the heels of the successful USDOT TIGER 1 Grant that PA and NJ received in February, those two states - with the addition of DE - are now submitting a TIGER 2 grant application. The request for $35 million out of a total project cost of $51 million is called GREAT-Mid-Atlantic, and would complete trails and bikeways all over the 3 states. Nine of the 30 sub-projects included in the application are on the East Coast Greenway in PA, NJ, and DE - with many more located on connecting trail systems, such as the Delaware & Lehigh Canal Trail (from Bristol to Wilkes-Barre, PA), the Schuylkill River Trail (from Philadelphia to Schuylkill County, PA) and the Great Allegheny Passage (from Washington, DC to Pittsburgh, PA). Please take a look at the grant application at this link. (8.7 MB pdf download)

If you live or work in the following Congressional Districts, please call or email your Congress-members or USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood to express your support for the GREAT-Mid-Atlantic project:
  • NJ: Districts 10 (Donald Payne), 13 (Albio Sires), 1 (Rob Andrews); Senators Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez
  • PA: Congressional Districts 8 (Patrick Murphy), 13 (Allyson Schwartz), 1 (Bob Brady), 2 (Chaka Fattah), 7 (Joe Sestak); Senators Bob Casey and Arlen Specter
  • DE: Rep Mike Castle (At Large), Senators Tom Carper and Ted Kauffman

    Click these links to find contact information for: your House rep and your Senator.


    Bike Walk Alliance of Westchester & Putnam / Merrill's Law

    Enjoy a glass of wine or Captain Lawrence ale and light fare to support the Bike Walk Alliance of Westchester & Putnam, an affiliate of the East Coast Greenway, on Tuesday, September 28, in Bronxville, NY. The Alliance led the fight to pass Merrill's Law, which requires motorists in New York to pass cyclists at a safe distance. We will be honoring Assemblywoman Amy Paulin and State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins for their efforts in passing Merrill's Law. For more details go to


    ECG Ride, NJ-NY

    Please join us for an East Coast Greenway bicycle ride on October 3rd at 9:00 AM starting and finishing at the George Washington Bridge. We will ride mainly pathways along the NJ and NY Hudson waterfronts and take a ferry from Hoboken across to NYC. You can see more details at the link below.

    The ride is free for ECG members who preregister and $10 for non-members. Hope to see you all there!


    October 16: Bike tour, Trenton to Philly

    But no ordinary fundraising tour: led by Philadelphia bicycle legend Robert Thomas, and rather than following our current route, this tour will highlight portions of the future ECG. Click here to download the flyer, and click the PayPal logo below to go to the registration page. Don't miss this opportunity to see the future of the ECG in Pennsylvania!


    Regional News: South Atlantic

    North Carolina: tour and meetings

    There is still time to register for the terrific bike tour of NC's Outer and Inner Banks! We're also conducting a fun ride in the Triangle, and important semi-annual organizational meetings are all near at hand. The Trail Council meeting, set to start at 10 am on Saturday, October 23 in Durham, will take place here. Keep your eyes on for more details on all of these events.

    Virginians: Help improve the ECG & US Bike Route One!

    A move has been afoot for some time to tweak US Bike Route One in northern Virginia. The route was initially laid out in the 1980s, but changes to the roadways, car traffic patterns, and car traffic volumes have changed in the last 25 years just as surely as have popular music and fashion. The ECG uses parts of US Bike Route 1 in Virginia, so we are naturally interested in the quality of the route.

    Some of the proposed changes (for the better) have not yet been endorsed by a critical government body - so your input is requested. Stafford County has thus far not endorsed the new routing, claiming that it is unsafe. We disagree, of course, thinking it an improvement, as the changes were proposed by experienced cyclists. A moment of your time would be appreciated, to simply write a message to the Stafford County Board of Supervisors, requesting that they support the revisions to US Bike Route 1. Clicking this link will automatically address an email to the whole Board: Chairman Mark Dudenhefer, Paul Milde III, Gary Snellings, Cord Sterling, Bob Woodson, Susan Stimpson, and Harry Crisp. Thank you!

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    Regional News: Southeast
    Phoebe Bright reports:

    New Florida milestones for Alliance-inspired trail moves

    Analogous to paddling, for the first time since the Closing-the-Gaps Campaign came to Florida, there's now enough water in the creek that our Alliance canoe no longer strikes rocky bottom.

    Viewed across four years, the Alliance is increasingly helping make the case that trails benefit how Florida lives.

    The first of two milestone Alliance-inspired Florida moments has come and gone. Now its impacts start.

    That first milestone was the mid-month program, "Locally Resourceful Tourism for a Sustainable River Economy," organized by Alliance Southeast Region Program Consultant Herb Hiller and ECGA Trails Council member Steven Davis. The program was part of the two-day St. Johns River Summit in Jacksonville hosted by the nonprofit St. Johns River Alliance that the Greenway Alliance also helped sponsor. One outcome promises quicker trail building through northeast Florida and of the Greenway all up and down Florida's east coast.

    A second moment comes October 4th when Visit Florida launches its trails-tourism website, for which Herb has chaired the working group teamed closely with the Florida Office of Greenways and Trails.

    That website launch will greatly favor a series of tours that nonprofit Bike Florida already operates along the 260-mile St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop under construction as part of the East Coast Greenway.

    Newly talked about at the River Summit is a program of tours that Bike Florida will lead starting October next year. These tours, outlined by Steve, would consist of 10-day train-bike-kayak-pontoon boat excursions looped south from Jacksonville to DeLand, Sanford, and then points on the river and along it northward again. Kissimmee would be another start point by train north to DeLand.

    The overall program would include a guidebook, website and phone apps for locally resourceful tourism that would embrace visits to historic neighborhoods of the river including one-of-a-kind dining and overnights between Jacksonville and Sanford.

    According to Herb, follow-through of the Summit combined with the new Visit Florida website should result in growing numbers of visitors traveling the river corridor route. That route includes some 50 miles of cycling and paddling trails already in place out of some 300 route miles altogether.

    Herb points out that the River Alliance seeks more regional protection for the river that includes sustainable commerce. Because the new trails website can help deliver large numbers of visitors for even the uncompleted trail route, it will be easier to get these additional trails built.

    In effect, visitors by their touring expenditures will help finance completion of these trails that the region wants for all its own quality of life purposes, and these could include a much sought trail that connects downtown Jacksonville with the coastal route and quickening completion of the St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop.

    Under the headline, "A more active lifestyle is related to the river's health," Florida Times-Union columnist Ron Littlepage quoted Dr. Brent N. Fulton, one of the Summit program panelists, that "The extensive hiking, biking, horseback riding and kayaking trails throughout Florida, including those connecting to the St. Johns, are great places to live that lifestyle."

    Florida is showing a complex but sensible approach to getting Florida trails built despite the depressed economy by making good use of resources already at hand.

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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% traffic-free.

    ~ 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

    ~ Learn more about the East Coast Greenway by visiting our website, or call us at (401) 789-4625.

    We look forward to hearing from you!

    Copyright 2010 East Coast Greenway Alliance