"On" and "Off" Trail Developments from Baltimore

Posted 05/23/19 by Avery Harmon in

AIA Baltimore Committee on the Environment and Resiliency Bike Tour | Photo by Avery Harmon, courtesy Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

Hello trail supporters,

Thanks for checking in for the fifth edition of our Baltimore blog. We’ve been enjoying the Spring weather and are taking advantage of new opportunities to promote the trail network. Since our last post, we’ve hosted community bike rides and volunteering events and even attended a couple of conferences. We’re continuing to make progress on the various trail segments and are excited to share our recent accomplishments with you all.   

Baltimore Greenway Trails Network 101

Between March 29 and April 1, we attended the 6th Fabos Conference on Landscape and Greenway Planning at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. This event is hosted every three years to convene an international audience of professionals from the greenway and landscape planning field. This was an excellent opportunity for us to learn about greenway development across the world and to consider how we can improve here in Baltimore. We also presented on our efforts to lead trail development throughout the city and discussed the challenges of building community-supported infrastructure in a city with an enduring legacy of inequitable development. We appreciated the opportunity to share and reflect on our work in Baltimore and look forward to attending the next Fabos Conference.

Avery Harmon, RTC Community Outreach Coordinator, presenting at 6th Fabos Conference | Photo by Avery Harmon, courtesy Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

From April 4 to 6, we traveled to Philadelphia for the Mid-Atlantic Greenways and Trails Summit, hosted by one of our partners, East Coast Greenway. We were also joined by Sterling Stone, executive director of Gearin’ Up Bicycles, Baltimore City Recreation and Parks (BCRP) staff members and a few of our coworkers from Washington, D.C. This conference brought guests from across the Mid-Atlantic region to explore regional trail development through presentations like “21st Century Parks and Public Space: What’s Next,” “Public-Private Partnerships Plus” and “Using Art to Engage Communities.”

Sterling operates a bike shop along the Capital Crescent Trail in Washington, D.C., and utilizes the space to provide local youth with career development and workplace skills. He is also a passionate local advocate for equitable transportation. Together, we presented on the intersection of community and trail development and led a discussion for how citizens, planners and other stakeholders can overcome the challenges of creating multimodal transit systems. 

Get On the Trail!

Every year, RTC hosts Opening Day for Trails on the second Saturday of April. The purpose of this event is to highlight the wonderful trails across America by inviting people to engage in various events on their local trail. In 2019, we hosted Baltimore’s largest Opening Day to date by organizing simultaneous events on two separate trails. On the Jones Falls Trail, Jim led a tour with BCRP, beginning at Cylburn Arboretum, where some participants walked to the Druid Hill Farmers’ Market while others biked all the way down to the Inner Harbor. Avery worked with Volunteering Untapped, a local nonprofit that organizes volunteering opportunities for young adults, and BCRP, to lead a “spruce-up” along the Gwynns Falls Trail in Middle Branch Park that included more than 100 people. We planted trees, removed trash, painted the Boat House deck and even constructed new benches. Overall it was a great day to welcome the 2019 spring season by combining volunteer work with the outdoors. 

Volunteers painting Middle Branch Boat House | Photo by Avery Harmon, courtesy Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

Greenway Bike Tour

In late April, we collaborated with the American Institute of Architects – Baltimore’s Committee on the Environment and Resiliency to host a bike ride along the southern portion of the trail network. The route began at Checkerspot Brewery, and we visited a few key sites in South Baltimore including Solo Gibbs Park, an old railroad crossing in Gwynns Falls Park and future trail segments in Westport and Middle Branch Park. Joining us on the ride were Baltimore city and county residents interested in the future of the city’s trail system.

AIA Baltimore Committee on the Environment and Resiliency Bike Tour | Photo by Avery Harmon, courtesy Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

During the ride, we were able to meet with staff members from a variety of organizations that are working to improve the communities and places along the trail route in South Baltimore. For instance, we heard from Ms. Betty Bland-Thomas, who’s the president of the South Baltimore Partnership and established a community Green Team to maintain the outdoor spaces around the Sharp-Leadenhall community. We also learned about Baltimore Recreation and Parks' new signage for the Gwynns Falls Trail, and the Middle Branch Park Master Plan that is being spearheaded by the Parks and People Foundation and the South Baltimore Gateway Partnership. It was a great day for trail riding, and we look forward to hosting more community events over the summer.

Thanks for reading our latest blog post. If you know any upcoming events we should be at, please email Avery Harmon. For ongoing developments on our project, follow the Baltimore Greenway Trails Coalition Facebook page and visit our web page on the RTC website. Have a great day! 

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