This April, we welcome many things: warmer weather, spring showers, spring flowers…and lots of great rail-trail news.
Here’s a few of the latest rail-trail happenings…
1Spring into Opening Day (U.S.)
What’s the best way to celebrate the start of spring? Opening Day for Trails, of course! This year, more than 17,000 people across the country hit a trail on Saturday, March 28. Sponsors, including REI, Fuji Bikes, Yakima Racks, Camelbak and Clif Bar made this day a memorable success by helping out along the way.
2Cycle from Cylburn! (Md.)
And of course…you can’t have Opening Day for Trails without celebrating the opening of a new trail. On March 28, Baltimore celebrated the recent extension of the 10-mile Jones Falls Trail, which runs between the Cylburn Arboretum and the Woodberry neighborhood—making it possible for trail users to take the Jones Falls Trail from Cylburn to the Inner Harbor. Although it was a chilly start to the spring season, more than a few dozen supporters gathered at the Cylburn Arboretum for the celebration, which included AmeriCorps volunteer support and loaner bikes compliments of the Ride Around bike loaner program.
3Going to See the King (Pa.)
Baltimore isn’t the only city celebrating a new trail. Opening Day in Philadelphia marked the opening of the Chester Valley Trail as well. This 13-mile long trail connects Exton to King of Prussia. What’s particularly notable about this trail is that it’s a part of the Greater Philadelphia region’s expanding trail network called the Circuit. This opening was another step on the road to completion for the network, which will eventually include 750 miles of trails!
4Three Rivers Trail Makes Economic Splash (Pa.)
The excitement in Pennsylvania moves from Philly to Pittsburgh with the release of a new RTC-led User Survey and Economic Impact Analysis for the Three Rivers Heritage Trail. The Three Rivers Heritage Trail study reaffirmed some of the benefits of trails that supporters across the country can certainly attest to. For example, the trail has a local economic impact estimated at about $8.3 million annually!
5Sudbury's in Line! (Mass.)
Moving up north to Massachusetts, a state committee has great news for Sudbury’s portion of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail. The committee approved future funding for this (to be fully paved) section of the larger, 25-mile-long trail, which will span from Lowell to Framingham.
6Volusia Vision to Become a Reality (Fla.)
Volusia County in Florida should be happy to hear that approval for funding of another 20 miles of trail has reached them as well! The county council approved grant agreements with the state for $13.9 million in federal funding for design and construction of the trail. This rail-trail will be the longest single corridor ever acquired by the state. Not only is it part of a larger, 250-mile stretch called the Coast to Coast Connector, it’s also being built on the bed of an historic railroad built in the 1800s.
7More to See from Mountains to Sea (N.C.)
Wait—we almost forgot another trail opening! The Onslow Bight and Jacksonville segment of the Coastal Crescent Trail, which opened on April 6, will link about 91 miles of barrier islands, marshes, wetlands and longleaf pine savannas in North Carolina. This area is one of the nation’s most ecologically diverse. Also, the pathway happens to be part of the Mountains to Sea Trail, which extends more than 1,150 miles from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks!
8Bikepool to Work (Calif.)
Though biking through the pristine wilderness of North Carolina must be a great stress reliever, riding your bike to work through the city has its benefits, too. Just ask the City of San Jose and Silicon Valley Coalition, who decided to pilot the first formal San Jose Bikepool on March 18, 2015. Bikepooling is just like carpooling, with one major difference. You guessed it: bikes! The group commute solution is designed to get people out of their cars—and into pedaling on the road. With designated pickup locations, and safety in numbers, Bikepooling is setting a fun, safe and invigorating precedent for ways to get to work without a car.
9150 in 150 Charleston Challenge (W.Va.)
Of course, biking is a great way to get around and stay in shape, but we can’t forget about what is sometimes an understated form of exercise…walking! On April 6, the city of Charleston, West Virginia, kicked off their Power Walking 150 initiative, which is encouraging people to walk, run or even bike 150 miles in 150 days. This campaign starts in April and ends in September and coincides with West Virginia’s Power baseball season, just FYI.
10Legendary Rail-Trail Is Turning 50 (Wis.)
With the various openings of new trails to kick off the spring season, it’s only right to mention a notable anniversary that highlights the history of rail-trails in the United States. About 50 years ago, Wisconsin became one of the first states to convert an abandoned railroad corridor into a recreational corridor with the creation of the Elroy-Sparta State Trail. Since the establishment of this trail in 1965, Wisconsin has developed 40 state trails (36 of them are rail-trails) encompassing more than 2,000 miles. On National Trails Day, June 6, a celebration will take place on the trail to commemorate a great half-century.
Is there a rail-trail opening or major milestone event related to a rail-trail or bike/ped project in your local area? Tell us!