October 2010

In This Issue...

National News

  • Greetings from the Director
  • Fall Trail Council and Board meetings

Regional News: Southeast

  • Sourballs, spinning wheels, loops and websites

Regional News: South Atlantic

  • Tobacco Heritage Trail progress
  • North Carolina: upcoming state meeting
  • Myrtle Beach, SC: ECG nearly complete!

Regional News: Mid Atlantic

  • Report: Oct. 16 tour, Trenton to Philly
  • Met Branch Trail, Washington DC
  • News from Newark & Jersey City
  • NYC hearing: your help needed!

Regional News: New England

  • New England Bike-Walk Summit report
  • Coventry (RI) Greenway: complete at last!

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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 the Director

A Record-Breaking Year

Dear ECGA Members,

I'm pleased to share with you that this year has become one of records for the East Coast Greenway. Even though the economy remains a challenge for all of us, the growth of our greenway vastly exceeded our expectations. And the number of people joining our events hit milestones never reached before in the history of our organization.

Our staff has teamed up with volunteers and supporters like you to quicken the number of new miles designated. For the first time, our annual greenway designations surpassed 100 miles, translating into a growth of more than 20%! Yes, you read that right: the East Coast Greenway grew almost twice as fast as China's white-hot economy. With your support, we can keep up our blistering pace in the year ahead.

And not only are dozens of miles of new greenway coming online every month from Maine to Florida, but ride and event participation is hitting record heights. We had 175+ people participate in our first-ever New England Bike-Walk Summit on October 7th in Providence, and another almost 200 people participated in our 39-mile Cross Triangle Greenway bike ride in North Carolina on October 22nd. This finale to our Close the Gaps Club tour from the Outer Banks was the most popular East Coast Greenway Alliance organized bike ride ever. These events helped our membership and volunteer base surpass 8,000 people.

Riders head out from the NC Museum of Art, Raleigh. Photo: Jerry Markatos

The year 2010 is a tipping point for the East Coast Greenway, which is now more than 25% off-road. As long as we keep breaking records, a Healthy & Sustainable America is within our grasp!

Dennis Markatos-Soriano

Photo by Steve Rosenbaum & Jerry Markatos

ECGA National Meetings report

After an energizing and beautiful donor tour from the Outer Banks to the Triangle, our national membership, Trail Council, and Board of Trustees meetings were held in Durham, NC.

We designated a record of more than 70 miles of trail from 8 different states plus Washington, DC. This helped our percentage of traffic-separated greenway rise to 26%!

The spring 2011 Trail Council and Board meetings will be held on April 30 & May 1 in the Town of Simsbury, CT. We'll provide more details as the date approaches.

Happy Halloween from Dennis and the Board!

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Regional News: Southeast

Sourballs, spinning wheels, loops and websites

by Herb Hiller

"More motivational for a neighborhood walk than a sweet tooth and an empty bag on Halloween Eve" - or how better to sum up involvement with the East Coast Greenway Alliance?

Every month year-round, supporters of the Greenway Alliance get to collect the sourballs, the Mars Bars, the candy corn and licorice.

During the last 30 days alone, consider in the bag Al Melvin's first known round-trip ride of the Greenway route through Florida, and also the launch of www.visitflorida.com/trails, the first trails website that allows anyone anywhere to book a partial or complete Florida trails vacation, including our Greenway route even though still incomplete as trail?

Also in the bag, Palm Coast resident Paul Haydt newly voted vice-chair of the Alliance board of trustees at the board's October meeting in Durham; first designation of the superb north shore Jacksonville Riverwalk (thanks to the Trail Council's Steve Davis), and a commitment by north Brevard County public and private interests to pursue a trail through the Canaveral National Seashore and the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. That north Brevard initiative will not only add to our Greenway spine route through the Space Coast but will also constitute a Titusville loop at the bottom of SJR2C -- the St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop.

Jacksonville's North Bank Riverwalk, on the St. Johns River

That SJR2C, by the way, is the route of a late-February tour by Bike Florida that will further advance this longest multi-use loop trail forming in the American Southeast (www.bikeflorida.org). October also closed with a proposal by Volusia County Council Member and Florida trails champion Pat Northey for an early 2011 push to complete the Loop, now with 100 of its 260 miles either already in place or funded for construction.

But it was 63-year-old Al Melvin, Vietnam army veteran and helicopter pilot from Milton in the Panhandle, who by riding the Greenway route has not only launched a personal fitness routine and drawn attention to personal dismay about official inattention to care for wounded veterans, but also drawn new awareness to the Greenway through Florida.

Al is a critical observer. Here's an excerpt from a trip summary that appears on the Spokes 'n' Folks Blog:
My greatest concern that came out of this trip was a safety issue -- not motorists versus cyclists -- but rather cyclist versus cyclist. I will be a strong proponent of cycling organizations encouraging and fostering safety training and certification. Over the course of 1060 miles cycled, I was passed too closely by only a few vehicles out of thousands that passed me. Out of dozens and dozens of faster cyclists that passed me only three announced their presence and called out, "On the left", etc.! You would think that cyclists would have the greatest concern about unsafe passing and be more courteous to each other. But that is not the case. I became conditioned to distrust other cyclists much more than motorists.
We'll be working with Al on a meaningful connection between cycling, trails and veteran care.

Al Melvin (L) and his Miami host John Hopkins

Otherwise, do check out the East Coast Greenway entry at the Visit Florida trails website. It's a first entry that will get detailed section by section through Florida. For a further look at how the entry will soon appear, open up the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail entry. That's us in the making.

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Regional News: South Atlantic

Tobacco Heritage Trail: Full Steam Ahead

The Tobacco Heritage Trail, a major rail-trail project underway in "southside" Virginia (and a critical link on the East Coast Greenway), has opened a second section! This newest section is in historic Lawrenceville. We look forward to many more trail openings along the THT!

Photo courtesy the Town of Lawrenceville


North Carolina State Committee meeting

Join ECG advocates on Monday, November 15 in Raleigh for a state committee meeting! The session begins at 9 am at the offices of host Stewart Engineering. Directions to the site can be found here.


Moving Ahead in Myrtle Beach

The City of Myrtle Beach, SC is likely to finish its section of the East Coast Greenway by this time next year. The Robert Bell Pass (trail) is complete as a 1.7-mile trail, connecting to the complete 6.4 mile Grissom Parkway Trail, which connects with the Harrelson Blvd Trail. That trail is about half done, and should be finished next summer, connecting to the King's Highway Trail. Key to the great progress seen through the years is the recognition by city officials and developers that multi-use trails make nearby housing more appealing. A map showing two of these trails can be viewed right here.

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Regional News: Mid Atlantic

Report: October 16th Trenton-Philly Ride

On October 16th, the PA ECG Committee led a 40-mile ride on the ECG from Trenton NJ to Philadelphia. Thirty people joined the specially-reserved train car that was coordinated from Philadelphia to Trenton to start the day. Riders then saw the development and challenges along the ECG route from Trenton to Philadelphia. There were many opportunities to get out onto the Delaware River to see pieces of the future trail alignment and the amazing water views and historic communities. Many thanks to our PA Committee for organizing this ride and to Bob Thomas for being our ride leader and tour guide.

Bicycles predominate in this SEPTA train car

Met Branch Trail update

In Washington DC, the Metropolitan Branch Trail has made significant progress this year and has officially opened a couple of new segments. We officially designated the Metropolitan Branch Trail as part of the East Coast Greenway at our biannual Trail Council meeting in Durham on October 23.

Walkers enjoying the new trail, with the US Capitol in the left background

Newark and Jersey City News

The ECG installed signs in Newark and Jersey City this fall. Many thanks to the Department of Public Works (DPW) crews of the two cities for all of their help. There is still a gap in the Newark to Jersey City connection along Routes 1 & 9 in Kearny. NJ DOT is scheduled to make improvements to this section in the year ahead. In the meantime we hope users can enjoy the routes we have developed for the ECG in Newark and Jersey City. We will have cue sheets posted to our web site for this route soon.

Jersey City DPW: heroes of the day!

Progress in The Bronx? Your help needed!

Please come to a public hearing to testify in favor of designating as parkland the corridor of the Putnam Greenway which is south of Van Cortlandt Park. This land is currently owned by CSX railroad. The hearing is scheduled for 10 am on December 1st at 22 Reade St. in downtown Manhattan. Speakers should arrive at about 9:30 am to be put on the list. Please see flyer at this link for more details.

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Regional News: New England

New England Bike-Walk Summit: A Striking Success

It was standing room only (literally) in Providence as the ECGA presented the first-ever New England Bike-Walk Summit on October 7! Nearly 180 people came from all corners of New England, plus a good contingent from New York, and presenters from as far as DC, Boulder, and Portland, Oregon. Eight sessions addressed issues including: bringing bike-walk advocacy to underserved neighborhoods, the economic development potential of biking and walking, relationships between advocates and agencies, and more! An inspiring field trip, illuminating downtown walking tour, and fun reception rounded out a successful day.

Representatives of 32 state, regional, local, and federal agencies participated, and dozens of companies and nonprofit groups had presence as well. Highlights included a rousing keynote from Tim Blumenthal (President, Bikes Belong Coalition), and thought-provoking addresses from Jeff Miller (President/CEO, Alliance for Biking & Walking), Richard Fries, and ECGA's own Dennis Markatos-Soriano.

Among vital takeaways: the decision of participants in the "legislation roundtable" to share their email addresses and stay in touch, so that as state-level legislative efforts move forward, people can share their experiences to improve the success of efforts elsewhere in New England.

We are grateful to all of our sponsors, and of course to all of the individuals whose participation made the Summit such a valuable event.

A high percentage of attendees returned evaluation forms, and there is near-unanimous interest in making this an annual conference. We hope to see you at the New England Summit in 2011!
A guided tour to downtown Providence pedestrian improvements, led by Kelly Carr of William D. Warner Architects, was a popular program element. Photo courtesy M.L. Stultz Photoworks

Coventry Greenway: Complete at Last!

The Coventry Greenway, a 4.5 mile project in western Rhode Island, was one of the first five trails to be designated as sections of the ECG (back in 1996). At the time, 3.5 miles of the trail were complete, with just 1 mile left to go (with 2 bridges). Who could have predicted that it would take 14 years to finish?

We're happy to announce that it is now complete - and was worth the wait! Our most sincere congratulations and thanks go to Coventry Parks & Rec honcho Guy L. Lefebvre, who has developed every inch of this trail (which is part of the Washington Secondary Rail-Trail, now 14 miles complete and paved). Without people like Guy, the ECG would still just be a dream.

Guy Lefebvre, Director of Coventry (RI) Parks & Rec, in front of the completed Coventry Greenway
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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 info@greenway.org.

~ 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