On June 25, Kathy Blaha, board member extraordinaire for both RTC and City Parks Alliance, posted this great blog on the programs helping to make the Metropolitan Branch Trail a true neighborhood gem. Programming is a valuable strategy for increasing trail use among individuals and families in local communities across the U.S., as RTC's trail development director, Kelly Pack, discusses in the blog.
Thanks to the City Parks Alliance for letting RTC repost! Happy reading!
Urban Trails, Neighborhood Partnerships: D.C.’s Metropolitan Branch Trail
Posted on June 25, 2014, by Kathy Blaha
Abandoned rail lines running through city neighborhoods can be the perfect solution for creating a park in a high density city with little other available real estate. Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) has nearly a 30-year history of providing leadership in the creation of more than 20,000 miles of new trail across the country. Today, it finds itself increasingly working in cities to forge the last connection to a regional trail system. This means tackling the shorter rail lines where their proximity to where people live, work and play makes them a good choice for getting people walking and cycling.
But these urban trails require a lot more attention to get people to use them for recreation and transportation, and RTC finds itself increasingly involved in programming trails as well as building them.
“RTC used to say, ‘build it and they will come,’” says Kelly Pack, RTC’s director of trail development. “Now we say, ‘build it, maintain it, program it, and they will come.’ In urban areas, people have a lot more choices. Being more engaged on the programming side really helps to build awareness and get people hooked on their own neighborhood trails—and then hopefully onto regional trail systems.”
Stretching 8.25 miles from Union Station in downtown Washington, D.C., to just across the border in Silver Spring, Md., the Metropolitan Branch Trail has long been a goal of neighborhood residents and planners in the region. RTC has been extremely active in organizing activities that encourage greater use of the Met Branch Trail.